After visiting Nepal, he was impressed with the huge waste problem in the country and decided to investigate the issue and present a concept for a possible solution. “70% of all the waste produced by families in Nepal just ends up in the rubbish tip – that’s a huge amount. There is almost no sorting. “Recycling has a very negative image here: people associate it with poverty. If you’re rich you buy new things and don’t even think of reusing them, because it’s simply not done.” This is especially the case with the better-off families Super Local aims to influence. “They are trendsetters and can therefore change their neighbourhood and ultimately their society. So Luc and I thought we should somehow be able to convince the middle-class Nepalese families that if they sort their waste, it is worth more. Our research showed that people were willing to do this but needed an incentive: they want something back for their effort. Which is excellent, because waste material has a value if you separate it well so that it stays clean. We came up with a concept to accommodate those families.”
“Nepal is predominantly Hindu. Faith is a good stimulus, as we noticed that the neighbourhoods in which a new temple had been built were completely refurbished. Moreover, the neighbourhood was subsequently kept very tidy and there was much less waste. So we decided to take inspiration from the local religion. Hindus believe that whoever lives a virtuous life will be better off in a future life. We are endorsing that idea: reincarnate your waste! The idea is that it can come back as a quality product. In this way, we manage to avoid the word ‘recycle’.” So far so good. “We had begun working on this project together with a local partner when the April 2015 earthquake struck, followed by a major aftershock in May, and that changed everything.” Thousands of Nepalese were killed, injured, or made homeless. The already struggling Nepalese economy collapsed, chaos took over, people switched back to survival mode, and the government focused on saving what could be saved.
All photos: Super Local