Cash in waste!
Nepal is a land full of problems which often give a way to entrepreneurs who make a business out of the problems with a tangible solution. These solutions are not only helping the entrepreneurs generate income for themselves but are contributing to the economy of the country. In this blog post, we will take you through a burning problem that Nepal is currently facing and an entrepreneur who has come to the rescue as a real hero! The hero that is being mentioned here is a hero that solves the waste problem in Nepal.
How are you dealing with the waste at your personal level? You have probably assigned either a government or private company to collect your waste everyday and pay them on a monthly basis? They blow a whistle and come at your doorstep and you throw the waste after which your house is speckles clean. Ever wondered where the waste goes to after you throw it in the assigned bins- either on the street or at your house?
Have you ever been to the garbage disposal area? I visited the landfill site allocated for Kathmandu’s waste in Nuwakot a couple of weeks ago and truth be told- it was a horrible experience standing on top of a hill piled up with garbage as eagles roamed over us. Trucks after trucks full of garbage visiting the landfill all day long and dropping the garbage that would later be capped up with sand and soon be turned into a hill. Not to forget the informally assigned garbage pickers at the garbage hill who sorted through what could be recycled and sold them off to dealers who would further sell the plastic to the Indian market. With bare hands and nothing to protect them from the stench, their health was definitely at risk. The stench and eagles, however, did not seem to be a big problem when I heard about the contamination of groundwater and aquifers along with soil, and production of methane, those were the big contributions made by the landfill. With most of the waste comprising of plastics, if you were on the site, it would make you wonder- why is none of this being recycled? To make things worse, the toxic water that was coming out of the landfill was being directly connected to a river running just below the hill which would further connect to Bagmati.
One of the alumnus of Rockstart Impact, Waste Concern is a waste management company based in Kathmandu and has been running successfully since 1993. The first of its kind to introduce waste management as a private company, founders Sulav Moktan and Rajani Shrestha have a great business model tFB_IMG_1491991637570FB_IMG_1491991627298hat not only takes care of the waste generated in Kathmandu but also contribute to the environment. The company started its business with 300 households as members, and two to three rickshaws. “Households need to become members, and we provide a card for this. They pay a monthly fee,” says Moktan.
The company’s early days were not easy as people were accustomed to disposing waste in open spaces; people didn’t want to pay for waste disposal. Today, the community centers segregate the waste, and around 60 percent of the waste goes to landfill sites. “We can decrease the waste reaching the landfill sites by segregating waste. Around 20 to 30 percent of waste need not be dumped. We can make compost,” says Moktan. Waste Concern also provides employment to the people. Even the youth are participating in waste segregation as a part time job. “The young generation needs to be mobilized to raise awareness among the people. We organize awareness programmes very often in the community that we work in and schools so that children also learn about waste management,” says Moktan.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 15-30 percent of the waste produced by healthcare institutions is infectious, toxic and radioactive, whereas 60-70 percent is considered to be general waste. A small amount of hazardous waste mixed with a large amount of general waste turns the whole quantity hazardous. The risks are maximized by multiplying the amount of hazardous waste. Usually hospitals and healthcare centers cannot be built far from residential areas as such facilities need to be easily accessible. In spite of laws being regulated for the proper disposal of medical waste, there are only a handful of hospitals in Kathmandu that follow the regulations- forget the hospitals outside the valley making a change.
Among the biomedical waste service companies trying to reduce the health hazards of waste produced by hospitals and other healthcare institutions, Pokhara based Waste Service Pvt Ltd is one of the alumnus of Rockstart Impact. Founded by Santosh Poudel, the company actively works around the areas of the country’s western city. Young and enterprising, Poudel is combining business savvy and technical innovation to provide a complete solutions to biomedical waste management in one of the important cities of the country. FB_IMG_1491991609518 The work of Waste Service is different from other waste management companies in Pokhara as it works solely on biomedical waste. Similarly, the company is actively trying to minimize the risks of contamination created by the hazardous wastes unlike other companies that only focus on recycling and dumping. The company is providing biomedical waste management awareness training in 15 of the major hospitals in Pokhara such as Fewa city, Namaste, Lake City, Metro City etc. The company works on the segregation, collection, transportation, and treatment methodology of such waste. After proper treatment, the waste is managed through composting, recycling and land filling.
Service deals in all kinds of healthcare waste produced by hospitals, pharmacies, polyclinics and dental clinics. “We have just started our operation by constructing the treatment centre and now we have the capacity to treat 1,000 kg of hazardous waste per day in Pokhara,” Poudel states. In an agreement with the Pokhara Sub-Metropolitan City Office, the company has obtained a license from the office to manage all healthcare wastes of the sub-metropolis area where 211 clinics and 25 hospitals are operational. The company also has plans in the future to draw up waste management contracts with healthcare institutions. “We will contract directly with the hospitals to work on other areas related to health care waste management. Meanwhile, we are in procurement talks with the hospitals to identify their needs on collecting waste, training, required infrastructure and waste auditing,” shares Poudel.
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