Kathmandu, October 21
It’s been 23 years since Rajendra Chaudhary, 50, from Birgunj, started collecting recyclable waste in Kathmandu.
“I came to Kathmandu to earn my living, along with my brother-in-law. During my early days, I sold vegetables. But, my earning was very less, so I started collecting discarded bottles,” shared Chaudhary.
Chaudhary earns Rs 20,000 to 30,000 a month selling those bottles. “Earlier, people used to look down on people collecting waste, but now the scenario has changed. There are more than 240 recyclable waste collection centres in Kathmandu valley,” he shared.
Chaudhary added that they used to collect bottles and other waste from houses and sell them to waste collection centres.
“We buy an empty beer bottle for two rupees and sell it at Rs 2.75. In the same way, we buy discarded notebooks at Rs 15 per kg and sell them at Rs 22. We buy iron materials for Rs 20 per kg and sell them at Rs 25 per kg. “We earn handsome amount by collecting waste,” he said.
Ayushi KC, founder CEO at khaalisisi.com, an organisation working for waste management shared that there are more than 13,000 waste collectors in Kathmandu valley alone. “Though, environmental pollution has become one of the major issues in the country, people are less aware about waste management,” KC shared.
“Seventy per cent waste which can easily be recycled and reused is dumped at landfill sites. If such recyclable and reusable waste can be handed over to waste collectors, waste management would not be a big issue and the waste collectors will also earn their living,” said KC.
Solid Waste Management Act- 2011 stipulates a fine of up to Rs 50,000 or an imprisonment of up to three months or both for those found dumping waste at public places.
Speaking at a programme organised here today by khalisisi.com, Minister of Forests and Environment Shakti Bahadur Basnet said problems of environment pollution and waste management could be solved with the help of public and private organisations.
During the programme, he said each and every person had to contribute to solve environment related issues. “Awareness about waste management is a must to protect environment,” said Minister Basnet.
A version of this article appears in print on October 22, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.