Turning Trash into Plastic Boards

Published: Jun 24, 2024 Reading time: 3 minutes
River+ project kicked off with a successful River Clean-Up Campaign on 20th April 2024. RIVER+ is led by Biocomp Nepal in partnership with PIN and CLEAN UP NEPAL. 
RIVER+ is supported by World Bank through the Plastic Free Rivers and Seas for South Asia (PLEASE Project), which is implemented by South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme with support from UNOPS.
© Photo: Sajana Shrestha

Plastic pollution has become a pressing issue in Kathmandu Valley, with high levels of plastic waste polluting the rivers in the region. Assessment findings show that 27% of plastic is openly dumped on riverbeds (GRIDA). 

It is evident that there is a need to strengthen awareness among citizens of Kathmandu valley on the negative impacts of plastic waste to promote decreased usage. However, promoting reduced plastic consumption among citizens of Kathmandu Valley alone isn’t enough. The alarming level of plastic pollution also requires recycling and upcycling of plastic in a form of innovative solutions.

Therefore, Biocomp Nepal in partnership with People in Need and CLEAN UP NEPAL came up with innovative project “RIVER+”. RIVER+ is supported by the World Bank through the Plastic Free Rivers and Seas for South Asia (PLEASE Project), implemented by South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme with support from UNOPS.

This initiative aims to address the environmental challenges caused by the improper disposal of Used Beverage Cartons (UBCs), low-grade plastics, and Multi-Layer Plastics (MLP) such as noodle wrappers, chips bags, shampoo sachet etc. in the rivers. Unlike other types of plastics, they are not currently being collected and recycled in-country, and as such end up being dumped in rivers, riverbanks, poorly managed dump sites and streets or burned.

The project focuses on establishing a complete value chain for the collection and recycling of these waste materials, with a strong emphasis on engaging vulnerable communities: informal waste workers, migrant workers especially women and youths.

We plan to train informal waste workers and collect low grade plastics from households, industries, rivers, streets and landfill sites. These collected UBCs and low-grade plastics will be transformed into plastic composite boards by establishing a zero-emission recycling plant. The produced plastic composite boards will be recycled again at the end of its life cycle” shares Maarten Nijhof, CEO of Biocomp Nepal. He further adds that by processing such waste, the project aims to prevent thousands of tons of plastic waste from entering the rivers annually.

In addition to waste collection and recycling, the project includes river cleanup campaigns to remove plastics from the rivers, riverbanks as well as raise awareness about proper waste management practices. This initiative not only aims to reduce plastic waste in Nepal’s river but also has the potential to have a positive impact on neighboring countries like India, given the transboundary nature of the Bagmati river.

By adding value to low-grade plastics and UBCs through recycling and creating employment opportunities for youth and women in waste management, RIVER+ project is not only addressing the issue of plastic pollution but also contributing to sustainable development in the region. Through collaborative efforts and community engagement, this initiative is paving the way for a cleaner and healthier environment in Kathmandu Valley and beyond.

Today is World Earth Day and this year’s theme being “Planet vs. Plastics,” brings attention to the serious issue of plastic pollution and how it harms nature.
Autor: Astha Pradhanang, Program Manager, People in Need

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