I n school we were told plastic was among the worst things that could pollute our environment because it would not disintegrate in 800 years, just say forever. It means the very first batch of plastic mankind produced, which was in 1862, hasn’t yet disappeared and in the last many years god knows how much more plastic the world would have produced. Imagine if Zhabdrung had thrown a plastic bag in a field in Punakha it would still be there. But don›t worry there wasn’t plastic during Zhabdrung’s time.
Plastic clogs drainage system and flood cities, it overwhelms landfills and leaches out dangerous chemicals that are a threat to lives, in the river system it can endanger aquatic lives, it will soon invade our agricultural fields making them infertile, and at the end it will take away our forest. But remember plastic doesn›t go there by itself but it›s us who mismanage it. Plastic is a Frankenstein and we are being very insensitive with it.
But in Bhutan we have our smallness on our side, today it may seem like we have plastic problem but if you have observed carefully, one moment you saw a lot of plastic bottles thrown around and the next moment it›s gone. It›s just a matter of one good solution, because plastic is a magical element. My little niece Bumchu won›t leave any plastic bottle at home or in our cars, because her school has the practice of collecting and selling plastic waste to Greener Way.
Now Greener Way has a local market in The Green Road right in Thimphu, where a young entrepreneur, Rikesh Gurung, with the technical capacity in executing the revolutionary idea of using plastic in blacktopping roads has opened shop.
Thimphu alone produces 50 tonnes of plastic waste daily and the landfill has over 200,000 tonnes of plastic, says the founder of The Green Road, which means he will have enough resources to make better and cheaper roads in the country, and he will not run out of his key ingredient. And the best part is plastic in Bhutan will not be a problem anymore.
But I›m surprised Rikesh›s idea didn›t receive a red-carpet welcome in the country. If our concerns about plastic waste were genuine and all the headlines meant anything serious I would expect government to hug the young man because his project can kill two cockroaches at one spank; better road and plastic management.
Interestingly before Rikesh could showcase his first task of blacktopping 30 meters road in Thimphu, another project made a headline. It›s about a technology that will be setup at the landfill to convert plastic into crude oil. I am thoroughly confused now. Rikesh has multi-million plant setup and now another project is threatening to steal way his raw material, what is this all about? Do we have so much plastic waste to feed two big projects? While the rest of the world is suffocating in their plastic waste looks like we are going to face plastic waste scarcity. Anyway, it›s good for us!
Opinion by Passang Tshering