Promoting a plastic waste remanufacturing ecosystem for local housing in Nepal

Promoting a plastic waste remanufacturing ecosystem for local housing in Nepal
09 - 12 October 2023
Impact Hub Kathmandu; Ree Gaun (Nepal)
, Nepal

In 2015 Nepal went through unspeakable human and economic hardship as it suffered one of the worst earthquake events in its recorded history.  With nearly 9 thousand human fatalities and 3.5 million people made homeless, the earthquake prompted a search for lighter and safer construction materials, to future-proof the nation in case of another earthquake event. In parallel, the problem of plastic pollution has been taking an increasingly larger toll in Nepal, a country highly dependent on its biodiversity and tourism, which are directly affected by cumulative plastic pollution, whose problem is particularly difficult to address in logistically-challenged mountainous regions. 

Under this background, the FCDO-UNCTAD Sustainable Manufacturing and Environmental Pollution (SMEP) Programme carried out in 2021 a competitive procurement to select projects in the sub-Saharan and South Asian regions which could respond to the need for prevention and mitigation of plastic pollution. The projects were also selected based on their potential for social impact and generation of economic, trade and development effects in beneficiary communities and regions. One of the 10 projects selected for funding was Plastic to Ghar, based in Nepal and led by the University of Cambridge. The project seeks to promote plastics upcycling through competitive entrepreneurship by locals, producing products and services useful for locals, but also with potential to be upscaled and marketed in Nepal and abroad.    

Ms. Padmakshi Rana, Executive Director of the Impact Hub Kathmandu, presenting the Plastic to Ghar project. 

During 9-12 October 2023, a delegation including members of Cambridge University, UNCTAD, Pegasys, Simon Fraser University and Impact Hub Kathmandu visited the remote village (Gaun) of Ree, in Dhading district, Nepal, where one of the initiatives under the Plastics to Ghar is active.  The project in Ree focuses on upcycled LDPE plastic sheets to maintain and waterproof roofing materials made of lightweight galvanized metal sheets.  It also seeks to deploy additional machinery in community recycling centers to enable decentralized plastic-board making services using locally-sourced plastic residues, which cannot otherwise be transported out of the villages due to severe transportation challenges. 

Galvanized metal roofing in the village of Ree, Dhading district, Nepal.  Plastic sheets are being trialed to repair roofing structures. 

Professor Anil Hira from Simon Fraser University mentioned “given the challenges of transportation, it is important to think of a rational way to decide where to set up plastic upcycling hubs and regional waste collection system across villages.  The fact that locals are already involved and willing to engage is central to any long-term sustainable solution” concluded Mr. Hira. 

The visit also involved meetings with local village representatives to showcase both the plastic sheet materials (used for roof maintenance), but also other plastic board materials which can be used in construction and furniture making, receiving enthusiastic interest by community members. 

On 12 October, a challenge section was organized to showcase and provide seed funding to 5 selected groups supported by Plastic to Ghar project, namely:

The projects, whose products and services are on various stages of development, collectively aim to upcycle plastics into useful and marketable materials primarily for the construction sector in Nepal.  

Local village representatives with coordinators from University of Cambridge, Impact Hub Kathmandu, UNCTAD and Pegasys during consultation meetings at Ree village, Dhading district, Nepal. 

The SMEP programme is funded by the UK-FCDO with technical assistance of UNCTAD.  The programme is operationally managed by Pegasys and SouthSouthNorth. 

Impact Hub Kathmandu; University of Cambridge; Ree Gaun Municipality; Pegasys
Sponsor / funding:

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Trade and environment Trade and environment




Mr. Henrique Pacini, UNCTAD - 

Ms. Curie Park, University of Cambridge -

Ms. Padmakshi Rana, Impact Hub Kathmandu -