When protecting the environment is the business

Greenbud: When protecting the environment is the business

07 October, 2022, 09:30 am

Last modified: 07 October, 2022, 09:46 am

Based on this hands-on experience, Greenbud came up with a question: what to do with this plastic and polythene that do not have any recycling value?

And this question led to Greenbud’s next interesting project.

Plastic road pavement

India has been paving roads with plastic mixed with bitumen for 20 years now. The country has thousands of miles of such roads.

Taking inspiration from India, Greenbud contacted LGED. It found an official, Superintendent Engineer Abu Md Shahriar, who has been working on dry plastic-bitumen roads for the last 6-7 years.

The work began. Greenbud collected the waste polythene needed for the project (which constitutes 95% of solid waste going into Buriganga), shredded it, did some testing in the LGED lab, and found the perfect ratio of plastic-bitumen mix.

On 4 August, the pilot project was implemented in Piruajali, Gazipur. In this process, at a certain temperature, the plastic is mixed with the aggregate, which creates a lamination on the latter, and then after some time, bitumen is added to it. As a consequence, the three make a strong bond, requiring 9% less bitumen thanks to the added plastic.

Photo: Courtesy

Photo: Courtesy

Photo: Courtesy

“The problem with bitumen roads is that in the rainy season, potholes are created. But we’ve seen in the case of India that the number of such potholes is reduced significantly in plastic-bitumen roads, which are stronger than traditional bitumen roads,” said Tasnem, adding, “Also what happens is that you find a sustainable way to manage the plastic waste problem.”

The plastic road is only 100 metres in length. But LGED is hoping to build more roads using this method.

“We are importing equipment from India to do some additional tests on the road. Once the tests are done, we will arrange a demonstration on how to do it and will pave more roads in every upazila,” Abu Md Shahriar, Superintending Engineer of LGED told the Business Standard.

For paving every kilometre of road, 500 kilograms of waste polythene will be needed, the official said. Once implemented, an upazila could be announced as a zero-waste plastic upazila, he hoped.

“Greenbud has been involved in the process from the very beginning. The company has sourced the plastic, and now is helping import the equipment,” Shahriar said.

Business potential

There is huge business potential for such kinds of plastic roads in Bangladesh, the engineer said, which will also protect the environment. If more such road projects are taken, people will put mechanical filters in the sewer systems to collect polythene because that will have a resell value, and the rivers will get rid of this dangerous pollutant.

“What we are doing here in this project is creating a market demand for non-recyclable polythene. Also, the cost of road construction will be reduced significantly due to the 9% saved bitumen,” said Tasnem.

Photo: Courtesy

Photo: Courtesy

Photo: Courtesy

It has been demonstrated in different parts of the world that different kinds of waste plastic, not just polythene, can be used in different road construction projects, for instance, sidewalk tiles can be made of high-volume plastic.

Of course, it must be ensured that microplastic is not generated and released into the environment through any of these processes, which will be no less harmful for living beings, the environmental engineer said.

When it comes to saving our rivers from pollution, there is no alternative to separate sewer water and stormwater at the source, Tasnem said, which is currently not in practice in the country. The sewer water should go to a biological treatment facility through separate pipelines and then be released into the river. 

Industrial wastewater going into rivers is most harmful, because it may contain heavy metals and carcinogenic material. However, there are commercial solutions available for treating that, but they must be enforced as the industries tend to bypass the regulations.

The beginning

“The journey of Greenbud started back in 2012. The idea was that we wanted to provide environmental consultancy and support to the industries. I started this company with three of my friends,”  said Greenbud CEO.

Tasnem is an environmental engineer who graduated in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Shahjalal University of Science and Technology. 

The beginning was not very smooth for the company, he said.

“When you start a small company, it does not get enough business or traction. it took around three and half years for us to understand the market; what the market demands,” said Tasnem.

CEO Syed Tasnem Mahmood. Sketch: TBS

CEO Syed Tasnem Mahmood. Sketch: TBS

CEO Syed Tasnem Mahmood. Sketch: TBS

But then, another disaster hit. All of his friends went abroad for higher studies, so he was left alone. “I was doing a job that time, I quit and fully concentrated in this company with 100% focus and 100% effort,” Tasnem said.

From 2015 onwards, Greenbud started to provide consultations like environmental impact assessments, environmental management plans and so on, which are required for the factories to obtain international standards certifications.

In 2018, Greenbud received accreditation from BAB- Bangladesh Accreditation Board, which enabled the firm to do environmental testing and inspection. The firm has provided environmental consulting and services to 950 different factories so far, its CEO said.

“We have also worked as an environmental service provider for several mega government projects like the Padma railway link project and Dhaka Metro Rail project, and we are also providing service to a subcontractor of Rooppur Power Plant,” said Tasnem.

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