Finding solutions outside formal planning process for economic and ecological prosperity has become a trend in both developed and developing nations. Many countries now believe that economic growth can complement environment conservation. Important policies have been formed and implemented targeting solid waste management system in most nations. However, according to Bimal Bastola, co-founder of Green Road Management Company, this level of consciousness seems to be lacking among our policy makers. Very few policies are made in Nepal keeping in mind its impact on the environment.
Hence, Bastola along with his friend, Sanjeev Bastola, thought of proposing a sustainable business model to their state government. Their friend Bimal Basel also helped them. They aimed at constructing a plastic road that would help in reducing plastic waste in the city. At the same time, the roads would be more durable and strong.
According to Bastola, the inner and connecting roads of Pokhara are not maintained. Most of the roads are in a deplorable state with puddles and potholes. Bastola himself had an accident about two years ago because of the pathetic conditions of the roads. “That made me realize, every year many people lose their lives or become disabled because of these roads,” says Bastola stating one of the main reasons why he thought of establishing his Green Road Management Company. The company aims at building strong roads and reducing plastic waste at the same time.
These two young and talented individuals have been conservationists and activists since their school days. When they were younger, they always planned to transform their beautiful hometown, Pokhara, in whatever ways they could.
“It’s not the big steps you take that matters. It’s the small acts of conservation that makes a difference and we have always been ardent supporter of eco-friendly way of living,” says Bastola who does not believe in relying completely on the government to get everything done. “We as citizens can also do a lot on our own,” he adds.
Hence, these three youngsters came to Kathmandu to meet up with various entrepreneurs and professionals who already had the expertise in managing plastic waste. To their surprise, they realized that all of these start-ups collected waste but had no recycling plants to recycle them. Hence Bimal Bastola, who is also a mechanical engineer, took training to know more about recycling machines from Bhutan and Rajiv Subedi, who is a civil engineer, got trained and learnt about plastic road making process.
They planned to make their first trial road at Anupam tol in Pokhara. They first took the permission of the locals and then bargained with the municipality for plastic road construction. The local municipality sanctioned their trial attempt. “We told the local government that we would construct a plastic road. If we were successful, the municipality would have to give us money separated for the construction of the road and if we were not successful we would bear the entire cost ourselves,” explains Bastola.
While they did face a lot of problems while finding the contractor, collecting and cleaning plastics, they were finally able to complete the construction on July 19, 2018 and the road was inaugurated by the mayor of Pokhara, Man Bahadur GC.
According to Bastola, the company aims to do a lot more in the future. He says many of our neighboring countries like India and Bhutan have made making certain kilometers of plastic road compulsory and helped small start-ups in the process. Recently, the Maharashtra government in India also made it compulsory to use plastic waste while constructing roads. Green Waste Management Company is currently also lobbying for same, and forming pressure groups to force their local government to implement it as well.
“It’s also important to understand that we are not begging the government to give us funds. We are giving them a proposal to make eco-friendly roads at a lower price. The roads are also much stronger and durable,” says Bastola adding that this proposal will benefit both the parties – the government and the citizens – equally.
In the future, the company wants to make more innovations in the sector of waste management by bringing sustainable ideas from all around the globe. “First of all, we have already started setting up plastic waste collection center at each ward,” says Bastola. They intend to give money in exchange of plastic to these contributors at local wards. The company has also linked up with business houses and institutions that generate a lot of plastic waste. And lastly, they have been and will continue to collect plastic waste from the landfills and recycle them on their own. “We are looking towards reducing the burden at the landfill site. We want to segregate and use recyclable waste to its fullest. Our target is to achieve almost 90-95% utilization of collected waste,” says Bastola.
They also intend to collaborate with the government and spread awareness about the hazards of plastic waste and importance of waste segregations at schools. “Our children are our future and it’s extremely important to make them aware about the need to recycle and conserve the environment if we want to save our beautiful nation,” says Bastola.