Green Road Waste Management: Using Old Plastic to Make New Roads

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Innovation is the mother of invention. Innovation comes from, one, acknowledging yourself; two, studying and understanding the problem; and three, finding a solution. 

Green Road Waste Management Company is aiming to change the future of roads, using waste plastic to construct and renovate roads. Bimal Bastola and Sanjeev Bastola along their team have long term vision of eliminating potholes along with solving the increasing problem of plastic waste by using plastic waste for productive and sustainable purpose. 

Here’s what they have to say about the inspiration and their journey:

1. How did you start your journey?
While doing research on Kabaadi waste, we were fascinated by their idea and during that course, we came to Kathmandu and met Nabin Bikash Maharjan (CEO, Blue Waste to Value) and Doko recyclers. At that time, Doko was collecting plastic wastes, e-waste and sending it somewhere for disposal. There was no proper solution for waste management. So we thought of working in actual recycling which was not done by current waste management companies.

Bimal says, “while researching about recycling, I found out about plastic roads made in India. Since I had gotten in an accident due to a pothole in the road, it struck me to fix the problem for the long run. I further researched on how potholes can be fixed in 24 hours and found an article in Himalayan Times about the plastic road made in Bhutan. So, through various links, I got in contact with a person from Bhutan and that’s how we started our journey”.

2. How many people are there in the team?
As of now, there are six of us working actively in this project. Now, we are planning to enlarge our team after getting the project from the government or other agencies.  It has almost been 2 years since we started working in this field, however, we got registered as a private limited company in April 2018. We are an independent body and are not linked with any governmental organizations. 

3. What is the process of constructing the road using plastic?
The process of constructing the road using plastic is similar to the road construction process that is commonly practiced. The only difference is that we add shredded plastic pieces during the mixing process and heat it in a controlled temperature. We only use soft plastic wastes, as hard plastic pieces take some time for coating the aggregate and other few types of plastics produce hazardous gases. We will collect it directly from households, industries and landfill site. After we get the affirmation from the government, we will employ more staff and send separate vehicles to collect the plastics. 

4. Is there any visible difference between the plastic roads and other pitched roads?
Although there is no visible difference, in the long run, we can analyze the difference on the basis of durability and stability. As per the experience from the roads built in India and Bhutan, the plastic roads seem to last longer than ordinary roads, very fewer chances of pothole creation. Plastic roads have the capacity to hold more load than other roads because the binding between the aggregate and bitumen becomes stronger due to plastic. The aggregate will have a coating of plastics and over it, there will be a bitumen layer because of which water penetration will reduce.

5. How are you planning to sustain your company in the long run?
We are planning to set up a revenue model. We will be looking after the technology part and supply the raw materials to the road making companies. 

There are two parts to creating this revenue model. Initially, since we are not equipped properly with the materials that are used to construct the road, we will be selling our raw materials and technology to raise enough money for the equipment. In the later stage, when we are fully equipped with the materials, we might also be working on road constructions.

6. How do you manage to convince the government to do this work?
We have already demonstrated our work practices to the government. We also gave a presentation on April 2018 showing the benefits of plastic roads and the practices and use of such roads around the world. I guess if they are willing to change the society they will certainly come back to us. 

7. What challenges are you facing with the company?
The first challenge we faced was developing links and connections with experienced people. Also traveling to Bhutan itself was another challenge from a financial and technical perspective. 

Further, the implementation part after the training was also very challenging. Finding proper contractors and workers and collecting waste from different places was also a challenging part of our journey. Additionally, after demonstrating and pitching our idea to the government for construction projects we did not receive action motive response from them.

8. How did you overcome your challenges?
For now, we construct roads for trial so, we do not get any money for it. The government only permitted us to construct the road because we needed to do it on a trial basis but it hasn’t provided us with any monetary funds. 

We are in contact with some civil engineers who are in touch with the contractors. We thought the easy way to overcome the challenge would be to find and convince the contractors by paying them more than the payable amount. 

We have covered 100 meters of road in Pokhara and are expecting new projects. Currently, we are just in the investment stage where we are getting trained. We are still learning and updating ourselves. It is not something that we can do overnight. It takes time and we will develop ourselves along the journey.

9. Are you linked up with other organizations as well?
Yes, we are linked with contractors for the road construction and for the waste collection we are linking with Blue Waste To Value in Kathmandu and for other cities, we will slowly develop links.

10. What are you planning for the future?
We are approaching companies for funding and investment so that we can expand our operations all over Nepal. We will have separate collection & segregation center while processing plant will be separate, where we will process our raw material and form a suitable mixture ready to be mixed in the road making process. 

11. Do you see yourself as a social entrepreneur?
Yes, we see ourselves as a social entrepreneur.

12. Do you measure the social impact of the company? If no, are you planning to do so?
We haven’t yet conducted any kinds of measurement. But we will definitely have to measure the impact. We came to know that a company from India does an impact measurement of similar kind of enterprise.  So we will be in contact with them in the future for impact measurement. 

If you would like to know more about this company then visit their website- Green Road Waste Management.

Interviewed by Jasmin Karmacharya and Edited by Yangzum Lama