In the first few moments that you’ve landed in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, you will be thrilled to see the distant Himalayan mountain like clouds attaching to the edge of the sky. At the same time however, you will sense an unpleasant odor rushing towards you. This unlikely smell comes from the stench of the waste piled up on the streets and the dirty water from the river.
Figure 1. Waste piled up on the streets in Kathmandu.
(photos captured from Doko Recyclers YouTube Video in May, 2018)
Although Nepal is one of the least urbanized nations in the world, it is amongst the top ten fastest urbanizing countries. Most of the urbanization occurs at the Kathmandu valley, and a few large and medium cities. With the rapid urbanization, municipal solid waste management has become a pressing issue. A report by ADB shows that household waste in Kathmandu consists of 66% organic waste, 16% plastics, 9% paper and paper products, 4% glass, 2% metals, and the rest contain textiles and other materials. Only 40% of the city’s waste are collected by private companies, non-governmental organizations, and through informal scavenging. Furthermore, for the 40% that is collected, most of the waste end up in unregulated landfills or are openly burned. Such practices may pose a severe threat to public health, the environment, and even public safety as some of the waste may be used as weapons.
In 2017 alone, over 150 deaths and hundreds of relocations reportedly occurred at a shocking frequency due to landslides at waste dumps, in Colombo, Sri Lanka; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Conakry, Guinea; and Delhi, India.
In light of the urgent need for solid waste management, Doko Recyclers was born. Consisting of five people who share a love for recycling “waste”, Doko Recyclers aims to tackle the chronic waste management system problem in Nepal. “Doko” is a term locals use to call the bamboo basket commonly used in rural Nepal.
Doko Recyclers intro video explaining its innovative waste solution.
(video from Doko Recyclers YouTube account)
In a nutshell, Doko buys the waste from households or corporates, sorts them at its Materials Recovery Facility, and sends them to companies that recycle the waste, making them into reusable products. By providing a small margin, Doko is able to incentivize users to recycle their waste at home and the workplace. Among others, Doko collects paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, metals, E-waste and rubber. According to Doko, it is possible to recycle 90% of the waste they collect.
Currently, Doko only operates in Kathmandu and Lalitpur. In the future, they plan to expand to other large and medium cities in Nepal to further the cause of Innovative Waste Management.
Doko Recyclers team participated at a Finnish social impact pitching competition as the top 3 winners in 2017.
(photo from Doko Recyclers website)
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