Manik Thapar is one of the pioneers of the waste management industry in India. His work has been published extensively in the media in India and abroad and is known for his unique business model in the field of waste management. Manik Thapar is a Canadian Citizen with Indian origin. Having done his MBA from The De Vos School of Management, Michigan, he moved to India in 2005. Inspired by the idea of setting up a waste management company in India, which came from a school project; Manik at the age of 23 decided to enter the challenging industry despite initial difficulties and opposition from friends and family. His efforts bore fruit as people started acknowledging his work and in just three years he became a true youth icon. Currently, EcoWise is collecting, segregating, aggregating, treating and disposing around 120 tons of waste on a daily basis through composting and recycling methods. Last year, his company managed to divert 35000 tons of waste from ending up in landfill.
Excerpts From The Vision Board Interview With Mr. Manik Thapar
Learnings of Key Human Behavior?
From a human behavioral perspective and a perspective of psychology you have to really go back in history to understand how India has a culture and as a society functions and unfortunately throughout our history of any work that is looked upon as dirty I would say has been given to people or has been contained and been done by people that our caste system has created and and labelled. So what ends up happening is that you know even today to a great extent in a lot of households whether that be upper middle class ,middle class households garbage’s, let’s say you had food at dinner, once you’re done with that food whatever is left in your plate is looked at as garbage. So kids and parents in a lot of middle class, upper middle class houses don’t even get off the table take their own plate and empty it out of their dustbin. When somebody else does it they don’t even take their garbage out. So it’s a mindset issue , it’s what we are teaching our kids, what we have learned, what we have seen our parents do. So along with a mindset issue it’s also a big cultural and social issue where a lot of stigmas are attached to this sector, that are attached to garbage. So it’s going to be a long haul in order for us to change that mindset and that mindset has to be changed from an early childhood perspective where kids need to be taught that when you finish your food firstly you must finish everything that’s on your plate and once if there is something left in your plate then you know that needs to go into the composting bin, you need to go and do that yourself, you need to empty it out into that bin yourself , you need to wash your plate and then put it on so these are this primary things basic things that need to be thought and inculcated because what ends up happening is that these same tips if they are not taught , these things end up growing up going into society going into corporations where they are working with a feudal mindset in relation to garbage and then when they go into these corporations they behave the same way that they behave when they were at home and what has been taught to them at home because that’s what they are used to. It’s not that it’s not their fault it’s that they’ve just not been exposed to something different. So it’s a massive mindset challenge and the only way of change meaning that is through education the only way of changing that is through showing values by doing it yourself and leading by example at a home level.
Waste Management=Money Management...Meaning and Perspective
Well Waste management is equal to Money Management. You think about it on every Line, if you look at it from a household perspective, the more you waste the more you have to go out and buy. You know so from a food perspective again if you can start implementing certain practices at your home it would reduce your grocery bill. Now we’re looking this is just food but then you come onto something that is even more, I would say torturous to think about and talk about which is uh textiles clothing and every six months or every three months or four months you’re going out and buying yourself new clothes when you have a closet full of clothes that you don’t wear, new shoes when you have a closet full of shoes that you don’t wear. That’s money wasted that’s all money that you could save, so these are all based on Management. A waste management company and I’m saying that a waste management thrives on consumption, waste management companies thrive on consumption they thrive on the fact that consumers and industries are continue are going to continue to consume at a greater level and continue to generate more and more waste because that’s good for these companies, it’s good for us also don’t get me wrong but there has to be different system around it. Yes so waste is, you know more you waste the more you waste money also and we also talk quite a lot about less is more because the moreyou have in every situation the more problems you generate the less you have, the less decisions you have to make in life. It becomes a lot simpler both financially and in terms of making decisions.