The increasing solid waste generation in Lahore has unveiled a plethora of opportunities for young startups and entrepreneurs to explore and galvanise unique solutions to turn trash into highly lucrative and environment-friendly bi-product. The Institute of Urbanism (IoU) and Heinrich Böll Stiftung organised a two-day exposure visit for eco-journalists to the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC)’s solid waste landfill sites, Green Earth Recycling and Lasani Fibre Industries who are aggressively working on waste recycling into reusable eco-friendly material. The journalists visited LWMC, Mahmood Booti and Lakhodair dumping sites where the Senior Manager Communications and focal person LWMC, Umar Chaudhary and Director Project, LWMC, Ali Niazi briefed the journalists on the sites work and operations. Umar Chaudhary informed the journalists that the LWMC claims to be Asia and the region’s largest waste Management company in terms of its operations and workforce. The Company owns around 15,000 staff, some 1,400 vehicles that function in three different shifts and collect 5,000-6,000 metric tonnes (Mt) waste daily. The Company 6,000 garbage containers were placed across the city for garbage collection. He added that the Mahmood Booti site left over waste after recycling was managed by soil capping and plantation on the site. “Around 40-60 % of green or organic waste has been segregated from the total collected garbage. The LWMC since its inception in 2010 reduced 21 million tonnes of waste from the environment and gathered it in the form of a heap,” Umar Chaudhary said. The landfill site has a 1000 tonnes capacity plant for compost production. The Compost produced by LWMC is sent to different nurseries whereas two consignments have been sent to the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA). The LWMC is selling the compost for Rs 8 per kilogrammes (kg) whereas in the market the compost is being sold for Rs60-200 per kg. The compost is named as “Balia” packed in 5-20 kg packaging and also available in bulk open for Rs 14 per kg in packaging and Rs 8 per kg open bulk. The LWMC focal person underlined that the Company had collected 60,000 tonnes of off during Eid ul Azha which was one of the major waste collection operations. He urged that the young entrepreneurs need to be encouraged to work on innovative waste recycle solutions and they can send quotations or requests to LWMC for desired product or material for the recycled products. The LWMC had 40-50 staff engaged for community awareness whereas the three bins model has been introduced to start on source segregation of the waste. The LWMC apart from the city area had its jurisdiction over Manga Mandi, Raiwind City, Shahdara Town, and Badian Road till border area. During the visit to Lakhodair, the in charge of the Site, Muhammad Ali said the LWMC landfill site is spreading over an area of 200 acres comprising two parts of 60 acres dump site and 70 acres landfill site including allied structures and leachate pools. There were almost 350-400 per day trips of vehicles collecting solid waste across the city. At Lakhodair site, the LWMC holds 24/7 operations with 97 staffers working in shifts. In 2021, Bloomberg and Canadian journal reported utilisation of Landfill Gas pilot project that intended to sale methane gas accumulated in the garbage heaps to local industries. Muhammad Ali informed that the gas composition is 45-50% methane and the remaining is CO2 and moisture. “It’s not monetarily beneficial but cuts emissions from the environment. A local industry invested it’s capital in infrastructure to get it’s gas transferred to run the plant and it worked. It’s the fifth month and the industry is running it’s plant,” he added. Muhammad Ali said there are total five factories getting gas supply from Lakhodair dumping site whereas 43 gas vents have been established to prevent methane explosions. CEO, LWMC Babar Sahibdin also interacted with journalists. He said the LWMC is the largest public enterprise engaged in waste collection, transportation and scientific disposal. However, he said waste segregation at source and enclosures were being modeled with the help NGOs whereas a memorandum of understanding was signed with the Harvard University and LUMS to conduct a research on waste management solutions.The LWMC had digitized all it’s fleet and was using AI to optimize it with the help of LUMS, he added. The Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) was also engaged in developing an application to manage the large-scale staff based on geofencing and face recognition, he said. “We have removed over 1,200 ghost employees from the Company after incorporating IT based solutions. Revenue collection has improved from Rs 2 crores to Rs 21 crores by use of technology,” he said. “We are working with ONVI for generating jet fuel and petrochemical products from our waste We have floated an EOI with the Punjab Power Development Company for a feasibility of 50MW energy production through 3000 tonnes of waste,” he said. During the second visit, Mr. Bilal Business Head of Green Earth Recycling briefed the journalists that the Company used to export plastic benches to Germany and in 2004 it decided to further scale up it’s production by introducing new variety of recycled products. The facility of the company could recycle 450 tonnes of plastics and 100 tonnes of plastics per day. The Company was also producing manhole covers and some 350 have been installed at Lahore’s roads that were made of plastic waste and none of it has been stolen. During the third visit to Lasani Fibre Industries, the journalists were informed about the recycling of PET plastic from bottles, the processing of extracted PET into fibre and it’s further conversion into usable fibre. Lasani Fibre Industries is one of the leading companies of the country manufacturing regenerated, recycled or carded polyester fiber through pet bottles. Last year, it recycled more than 18000 metric tonnes of PET bottles which is equivalent 6 million bottles. The Company was making 32 products from PET bottles and had a capacity of 55 tonnes a day of polyester fiber production. Some 11,000 tonnes of PET bottles have been recycled for PepsiCo from January 2023 to July 2023. The authorities from both the public and private sectors unanimously identified the scavengers as the unregulated part of the economy that need to be brought under a certain legal cover for a streamlined circular economy as recycling was a capital-intensive business demanding a regulated regime.