Despite the fact that climate change has become the burning issue of the 21st century, very few people have come forward to tackle the problem. Among that few people, Bihal Koirala and Sajjan Md. Siddique, duo well-known public speaker, social and youth activist have attempted to manage the wastes in the society if not eradicate it. Here is a short conversation with the duo activists about the sustainable solution for poor waste management in their hometown: Nepalgunj.
What is “Waste Recyclers”?
Bishal: In our country, collecting piles of the wastes from around the city and dumping by the riversides and lakesides is waste management. But this is not the case with us. It is the traditional way of solving the problem which is not effective at all at the present time because the amount and kinds of waste produced is very different from the past. So, Waste Recyclers is a new idea in Nepalgunj about the efficient waste management though not in the world to make a clean and healthy environment. As I was from a business background, I thought of commercializing wastes .The main objective of ours’ venture is to create win-win condition for all of us. We will be buying the waste from the people and then we will convert the same waste into biogas and fertilizers. People will be able to earn some money from the waste they considered useless and the environment will be clean as they won’t be throwing the waste randomly. After that we will be selling the biogas and fertilizer to the farmers which will be much cheaper and effective for farming instead of chemical fertilizers. Simultaneously, famers can sell their healthy vegetables to their customers. Farmers, customers, and environment are the beneficiaries of the Waste Recyclers.
Lastly, waste recyclers focuses on good health, well-being and better environment for all. It provides a feasible, desirable, and an alternative to traditional means of waste disposal and procreate bio gas and fertilizers out of that which ultimately promotes social, logical, and environmental system of decomposition and waste management.
How did you came up with this idea?
Sajjan: We , both were part of Himalayan Climate Initiative’s, a youth driven Nepali Non-Profit Organisation committed to Social Inclusion and Climate Risilience, idea pitching and problem solving oworkshop. Lucliky, we were in the same team and from same city. During workshop, we realised that our city needs a better and effective waste management as Nepalgung is one of the polluted cities in Nepal where health problems like Dengue, Malaria are not uncommon. And till now , we both are working together tirelessly to make implement our idea throughout the city.
At the same time as social workers we were well known of the fact that because of the chemical fertilisers, both people as well as land are lossing the potetial for instant profit. Because of the excessive use of the chemical fertlisers, people health is deteriorating and the fertlity of the land is decreasing day by day. So we thought of solving both the problem as the same time.
Who are your present and future customers?
Bishal: Rather than saying the customers of our venture, I would like to say all members of the society are part of ours venture. To put it another way, from housewives to big corporate houses all are part of our services at least at one phase of the cycle. There is no such places where wastes are not produced and where proper management of the wastes is not needed. However, all people are buyers as well as sellers in our supply chain. At the initial stage, we are the buyers as we are buying wastes from the houses, restaurants, and factories and farmers and industrialists become sellers as they are selling the wastes. In the second stage, after we convert the waste into biogas and fertilizers, we become the sellers and those who were sellers become the sellers. So in our venture, customers and sellers are not fixed.
Along with that, we are the best service provider for the municipality. All the cities in Nepal are suffering from poor waste management. The population in the cities are growing and so do the wastes, but the waste management remains same; at some places less, too. We are the ones working to maintain cleanliness in the cities and localities. To some extent we have been able to control the outbreak of diseases, ultimately helping the hospitals. Also, we have been successful to some extent to reduce the burden of the government.
How do intent to expand this venture in the near future?
Sajjan: Though we have not concrete business plans to expand in the future, we are hopeful about implementing the ideas throughout the cities of Nepal. Unlike other ventures, our work territory is vast because there is no such place in our society which do not require out help: services. Lately, we are attempting to connect with farmers. Farmers are our first priority. So far we have been able to connect 30 farmers. At the same time, we are trying to connect with various governmental as well as non-governmental organizations working to expand the work territory. Lastly, as youth activists it is our duty also to raises awareness among the people to make the society a better place to live. We are also trying to use personal connections to reduce wastes littered in our society.
What are obstacles your business?
The very first problem for our business is lack of awareness among the people in our society. People are not well versed with disastrous effect of chemical fertilizers and polluted environment surrounding them. Secondly, people are conservative to sell the wastes as it is considered a kind of taboo in our society. Besides, we have to face some government administrative works because this kind of business is misunderstood in our society. And lastly, lack of infrastructure is the greatest problem for us. We produce gas and because of lack of gas pipelines, we have to sell them in gas cylinders which become expensive for us.
However, we are getting more support from the people. In our case, encouragement outweighs discouragement.
What was the contribution of the Yunus Social Business Challenge 2018 in your journey?
Yunus Centre was a great aid in our journey. Through the help of the Centre we had been able to take our small project at national level. It provided us with dedicated mentoring and training which boosted our exposure. Furthermore, it made us able to connect with various investors and organizations interested in our venture. Lastly, we were using traditional method and machines to convert the waste into biogas and fertilizers, but now we can buy new machines with sophisticated facilities with the prize money which we got at the business challenge.