ANNUALLY, 15000 TONS OF WASTE PET BOTTLES ARE PRODUCED IN NEPAL OUT OF WHICH ONLY 12000 TONS OF WASTE PET BOTTLES ARE RECOLLECTED AND 10000 TONS OF THEM ARE EXPORTED ILLEGALLY.
Plastic pollution is one of the leading sources of environmental pollution, which causes a great challenge in maintaining a more sustainable environment. Amidst the challenges, even the smallest efforts to refrain plastic from entering the landfill can be a huge help for the environment and the community. Although there are a lot of challenges in plastic issues the environmental impact of PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottles and its phenomenal capacity-to-weight makes it the best quality recyclable plastics with a low carbon footprint.
Recycler Saathi, initiated in 2019 and aligns with the vision of The Coca-Cola Foundation’s ‘World Without Waste’ and aims to create a self-sustainable waste PET bottle recycling mechanism in Nepal. The broader goal of the project has been to formalize the waste management sector of Nepal and create a reliable and sustainable recycling mechanism in Nepal.
In alignment with Recycler Saathi’s goals to establish a proper recycling system within Nepal and enhance the waste management sector, it has focused on recollection and recycling of waste PET bottles, capacity development, and livelihood improvement of waste workers followed by prioritization of attitude shift among households and institutions towards recycling.
Although there are small recycling factories in Nepal, there lacks a sturdy mechanism to recycle PET bottles. Among the 12000 tons of waste PET bottles are recollected annually in Nepal, 10000 tons of them are exported illegally to India. These statistics made us realize that this informal economy can be legalized with higher and fairer revenue generation for the Nepali market itself.
Hence, we came up with the idea of Recycler Saathi to formalize the waste management sector and provide better livelihood opportunities for sanitation workers as well as reduce environmental impacts.
Producing 1 Ton of clean recycled PET in place of virgin PET reduces 1.5 tons of carbon emission and saves 48 million BTUs of energy. From its inception in 2019 until now we have recollected 2781 tons of PET bottles and sent them for recycling. This implies that the process has helped reduce carbon emissions by 4171 tons. This is how Recycler Saathi has become an ally of the environment and helped reduce the carbon footprint of the waste PET Bottles.
Waste PET bottles recollected by small and big kabaadis in our network are sent to our recycling unit in Chitwan. Here the waste PET bottles are baled and then sent to Essel Industries for recycling.
Besides recycling of waste PET bottles, one of our major intervention is advocacy and awareness as well. Our drivers of change are children and youth to whom we have been providing awareness and practical sessions on recycling through various programs and activities. In regards to this we have initiated Waste Smart Schools that attempt to expand the knowledge base of young students about recycling, encourage and influence their actions for the good of the environment.
We recognize waste workers as the primary agents of change for the environment. They are important players in the recycling industry and we acknowledge their hard work and contribution. Through Recycler Saathi, we provide them with health insurance, awareness, medical consultations as well as trainings to enhance their level of skills. Not just sanitation workers but their families are also major beneficiaries of the programs.
Most of our projects run in collaboration and partnership with different stakeholders such as the government, corporations, schools, colleges, and local communities. We love to connect with new institutions and build ideas for better activities and their impacts.
SOCIO- ECONOMIC PROGRESS OF OUR WASTE WORKERS AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS IS OUR TOP PRIORITY
INFORMAL WASTE WORKERS PROVIDED WITH SOCIO- ECONOMIC BENEFITS
WOMEN BENEFITTED THROUGH LEADERSHIP AND CAPACITY BUILDING TRAININGS.
The waste management sector of Nepal is still not in a good structure. The sector has been largely side-lined and the players involved in the field have not received the attention that they require in terms of enhancing their work as their sustaining their livelihoods. This has directly or indirectly taken a toll on the general scenario of the waste management sector and resulted in its slow progress.
Livelihood Enhancement Program has been introduced by Recycler Saathi to cater to the socio- economic needs of the waste workers as well as other stakeholders. It works in close collaboration with multiple stakeholders and ensures they attain a stable livelihood along with the skills required to enhance their work performance. Our Livelihood Enhancement Programs extends from waste collectors to our balers
By screening the needs of waste collectors and balers, we carefully plan and customise various activities for them. As part of our intervention to ensure good health of our waste workers, we have organized health camps in the past years along with health awareness sessions. Further, to enhance the working efficiency of our balers, capacity building trainings for them have been organized frequently.
Recycler Saathi has been providing us with frequent trainings and enabling us to strengthen our operations. We hope to continue this collaboration and make greater impacts on the waste management mechanism of Nepal.
Working as a baling machine operator for Recycler Saathi has been a very good experience for me. The working modality of Recycler Saathi as well as the various programs they have introduced for their partners such as trainings and workshops have greatly benefited me.
I have been collecting and selling recyclable items to Kawadi centers for years but never have I ever received a fair pricing for the efforts I have put on. I am happy and thankful to Recycler Saathi and Ex-Gurkha Services Team for providing a fair market price.
RECYCLING CAN ONLY REAP ITS BENEFIT WHEN THE LARGER PART OF THE COMMUNITY IS INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS
PET BOTTLES RECOLLECTED FOR RECYCLING
SCRAP DEALERS INTEGRATED INTO FAIR PRICING SYSTEM
BALERS INTEGRATED INTO FAIR PRICING SYSTEM
CARBON EMISSIONS REDUCED
We have multiple stakeholders in the waste management sector who have been making efforts as per their capacity to enhance the mechanism. However, these scattered efforts have not been much instrumental to develop a proper recycling mechanism within the country. The need of the hour is not just to build a strong network of waste management players who can contribute their part from their side but also streamline it into an organized collective effort to recycle as much waste as we can, reducing our carbon footprint and bring sustainable change in the waste management sector.
Through expansion of our existing network and collaboration with new partners, Recycler Saathi aims to eliminate this loophole of scattered efforts. It believes that it cannot work in isolation to tackle the problem of waste management and achieve the intended recovery numbers of waste PET bottles with individual effort. Hence, Recycler Saathi already has a network of different stakeholders that provide us with waste PET bottles as well as assist us with enhancing the waste management mechanism. The stakeholders involved range from waste collectors to local government.
A baling machine is present at Recycler Saathi’s office site in Chitwan. The waste PET bottles received from different collectors are received at the office site. The bottles are then baled by Recycler Saathi’s staff using the machine.
Our partners and stakeholders are in different capacities and have different roles. The partnership role is divided on the basis of contribution expected from them. Balers can partner with Recycler Saathi to provide their collection of waste PET bottles. Similarly, waste management organizations are welcome to join the network and collaborate with us to advocate for policy level changes. Educational institutions can join the network and allow space for their young students to learn and internalize the essence of environment conservation and recycling.
Earlier we didn’t know what to do with the collected waste so we used to practice open burning. Now, we are aware of reuse and recycling practices, therefore, we sell these plastic bottles to Recycler Saathi through waste collectors. We don’t just see the value of waste but also take it as a responsibility and service towards our community and environment.
As a partner of Recycler Saathi, we have had multiple opportunities to not just make our working mechanism more efficient but also benefit our waste collectors through their relief distribution program.
It is a great opportunity for us to be able to partner with Recycler Saathi and collaborate with them to enhance the waste management mechanism of Nepal.
In close coordination with Coca-Cola Nepal, Nepal Army, National Trust for Nature Conversation, WWF Nepal and other stakeholders, Recycler Saathi has established a proper waste collection and management mechanism in Chitwan National Park. With the support of a local waste collector, different types of recyclables waste are collected from the major checkpoint, reinforcing the initiative to keep Chitwan National Park as country’s first plastic-free protected area. Waste PET bottles are brought to Recycler Saathi’s center for recycling process whereas other waste are sent to our respective recycling partners.
RECYCLING CAN ONLY REAP ITS BENEFIT WHEN THE LARGER PART OF THE COMMUNITY IS INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS
The greater goal of Recycler Saathi cannot be achieved in isolation. There is need for awareness among a larger mass of people, which we tend to lack. Especially the engagement of young students and children in actions for environment conservation is minimal and needs to be expanded. Without ground level realization from the community itself, no substantial change can be implemented. Further, policy level support which is imperative to inculcate and institutionalise any change is highly lacking in Nepal is terms of waste management.
The engagement of youth and children through youth clubs and Waste Smart Clubs has been initiated by Recycler Saathi. It believes in harnessing the power and enthusiasm of the young minds to bring change and influence the community that they live in and eventually attract greater momentum to the cause of recycling. Further, other stakeholders through partnerships are also engaged in the process of outreach and advocacy.
Waste Smart Clubs are mostly focused in government schools and has been engaging young students to understand the environment better. Similarly, youth have been engaged in the process through various voluntary activities. Recycler Saathi has also engaged the various groups of community through both physical and digital mediums. Through physical medium, it organizes and partakes in rallies, talk shows and stakeholders meeting. From digital platforms, it ensures awareness and engagement through PSAs, informative videos and posts.
“Clean City, Our Responsibility” campaign was run in collaboration with Coca- Cola Bottlers Nepal (Terai) Ltd. and Green City Waste Management for the entire duration of the 12th Chitwan Mahotsav. The program garnered great attention to the importance of source- segregation, respect to waste workers and the recycling process of waste PET bottles.
On the occasion of the 47th World Environment Day, a week- long program was organized with the support of the Bharatpur Metropolitan City, Office of Municipal Executive- Bharatpur, Coca- Cola Bottlers Nepal (Terai) Ltd., Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chitwan, Time Pharmaceuticals, Doctors, Balers and Waste Workers to raise awareness about the rising problem of air pollution.
Advancing one step further from the initiative of making Chitwan National Park the ﬁrst plastic-free protected area of Nepal, a plan of complete waste management of wards 5, 6 and 7 of Ratnanagar Municipality covering the entire community of Sauraha (the eastern gateway to Chitwan National Park) was proposed by CREASION and supported by all the stakeholders. Therefore, in collaborative decision of representatives from Chitwan National Park Committee, Mrigakunja Buffer Zone User Committee, Coca-Cola/ BNTL, WWF Nepal, Digo Waste Management and Environment Protection Cooperative, Green Nepal City Waste Management, CREASION, Ecoprise Bio Solutions, and Clean City Cooperative, America, the “Towards Zero Waste Sauraha Vision 2020” mission has been proposed to manage and recover the complete municipal waste by the year 2020.
INVESTING IN GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IS THE BEST WAY TO ENSURE FUTURE SUSTAINABILITY
A linear economic model of take-make-dispose has influenced the consumption and production pattern of humans. While this is a convenient model that has been operating for very long and continues to do so, the challenges it brings are also many. One of its prominent problems is the waste that it creates and how haphazardly it is disposed of- ultimately impacting the ecosystem. With limited resources in hand, the sustainability of this model is also in question due to the excessive pressure it creates on the ecosystem.
Recycler Saathi’s project site in Bharatpur, Chitwan has made a conscious attempt to reduce its usage of virgin products even for construction. A building at the site is made through upcycled containers and glass bottles- hence diverting waste that would have ended up in the landfill. Further, the project site has a large patch of an organic garden- the vegetables from which are enough to sustain the team of Recycler Saathi for lunch. A do-it-yourself vertical garden made entirely from scrap PET bottles also adorns the open space. The garden is decorated with upcycled old tyres and uses old water jars as plant pots.
One cannot preach about sustainability on a broader level if micro-level changes are not initially initiated. The upcycled office space and organic garden is Recycler Saathi’s attempt to contribute towards a sustainable environment through mindful consumption and production.