Competition: Although bricks are one of the conventional building materials, new and innovative ways of using this multipurpose material are constantly being explored.

One such innovation came from Dawa Tamang to use grounded waste glass as an aggregate to make bricks, hollow and pavement blocks. His idea bagged the second prize at the fifth Business Idea Competition of Bhutan (BICOB) held in Thimphu yesterday.

Considering the rapid development of infrastructure in the country, the need for bricks is on the rise. Currently, about 60 percent of dwelling infrastructures are built using red bricks, which are mostly imported from India. The remaining 40 percent are constructed using traditional materials.

In his business proposal, the 27-year-old assistant engineer from PHPA II said that glass takes around 4,000 years to decompose. For every tonne of waste glass recycled into a new item, 315kg of carbon dioxide emissions are saved, it is also pointed out in the proposal.

“We save over a tonne of resources for every tonne of glass recycled,” said Dawa Tamang. “We save 1,330 pounds of sand, 433 pounds of soda ash, 433 pounds of limestone and 151 pounds of feldspar.”

He said that according to the statistics from Thimphu Thromde, around 10 percent of every 66.5 tonnes of solid waste disposed at the Memelakha land fill everyday consists of glass. Therefore, currently there are around 1,213.63 metric tonnes (MT) of waste glass at the landfill.

With the use of grounded glass in concrete, manufacturers will not only produce a stronger, greener and cheaper concrete for bricks and blocks but also can save around 1.32MT of carbon emission to the atmosphere per MT of cement.

Dawa Tamang said that in an experiment conducted to test his idea, it was found that the new brick saved four bags of cement per cubic metre of concrete mix, which in turn brought down the cost of production by 40 percent. The strength of the brick was also found to have increased by 25 percent.

Although his business idea is currently in a start-up stage, Dawa Tamang believes that it would make a big difference for the construction sector in the country.

The grounded glass bricks and blocks would be comparatively cheaper than the ones that are bought from India. “If we presume Nu 32 per concrete hollow blocks, then this new product would cost only Nu 22.8 per piece,” said Dawa Tamang. “And for concrete blocks, if the cost is Nu 13, the new blocks with grounded glass would cost Nu 7.8 only.”

The competition was organised to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country. It was also to raise awareness on innovation and entrepreneurship as a means for employment, economic development and inclusive growth among all sections of society including students of tertiary institutes.

Thimphu Tech Park CEO (Dr) Tshering Cigay Dorji said that the entrepreneurship scenario in the country is picking up now with support from various agencies.

“So, as a country, overall, we are on the right track, though additional support in the form of access to finance and easing regulatory processes for entrepreneurs would help,” said (Dr) Tshering Cigay Dorji.  “As studies globally has indicated, entrepreneurship would be the key to strengthening the foundation of our economy and creating employment opportunities in the long run.”

He said that BICOB is a platform to encourage people, especially youth to come up with innovative ideas. “About ten years ago, entrepreneurship as a career option was largely unheard of among the Bhutanese youth,” he said. “Today, entrepreneurship is being talked about at various levels starting from training institutes and colleges including various training programmes provided by the labour ministry. There are now opportunities for our youth to avail such trainings and seriously consider becoming a job creator rather than a job seeker.”

Started with only 49 entries in 2012, the competition this year received 126 valid business ideas, the highest so far in the competition. Forty-two participants were students of which the majority were from the Gaeddu College of Business Studies followed by Royal Thimphu College.

Ugyen Wangchuk and Tashi Phuntsho bagged the first prize for their idea to manufacture Natural Soaps. Dawa Tamang and Kezang Tshering won the second prize for Grounded Glass Bricks and a Commercial Green House respectively.

In the student category, Dhan Kumar bagged the first prize for his Eco-Waste Solution. Two teams from RTC, Menjong Pasta and Bhutan Interlocking Brick were also given consolation prizes for their ideas.

The competition was conducted in collaboration with the Entrepreneurship and Self Employment Division, Department of Employment under the labour ministry.

Younten Tshedup