Project Everest

Project Summary
Work Update

[FEB 18] [PROJECT SUMMARY] Autonomous Operation: February in review for Everest Recycling Solutions in Timor-Leste

February has been a massive month for Everest Recycling Solutions in Timor-Leste. This post will recap the highs and lows of our time in working in Dili.

The major goal of the February team was to ensure that ERS could run independently between March and June, in the trusty hands of a local team. As it was, ERS employed a local truck driver, Amino, for two one hour shifts a week. Trekkers would accompany Amino throughout the run to direct him to each pickup location, and assist in collection and segregation. For ERS to run independently we would have to replace these trekkers with local staff. Our recruitment procedure involved placing job advertisement materials around the main CBD, and within two days we had more than 15 applications. The two most appropriate candidates were selected from this pool of 15 and Andre & Palloi became our first segregators. We then needed to find a reliable manager with good communication skills. For this, our recruitment approach involved contacting UNTL interns that we have worked with us before. 4 potential candidates were interviewed, and Dina became our manager.

However, not everything went as planned. Palloi arrived 25 minutes late for his first shift, and missed the run. Dina’s university timetable clashed with her work hours which meant we had to find and train a replacement manager on our second last day of project. But we did not let this stop us, and have since hired another manager, Augusto.

Now that the ERS collection team was complete, our focus shifted to finding a workable warehouse to store our collected recyclable materials. We had previously stored our plastic bottles, glass bottles, and aluminium cans within the grounds of our accommodation at Paradises in Metiaut. We only had permission to use this land during our months of operation so a solution for storage had to be found before the end of February. Scouting for usable land was a tedious task that involved driving around, searching for ‘For Rent’ signs, and calling several Timorese phone numbers that were either disconnected or didn’t answer. Eventually, we stumbled upon a warehouse on the outskirts of Dili completely by accident. We had taken a wrong turn that ultimately became a right turn, as this warehouse was perfect for our needs. After negotiation, we were able to barter for a rent price within our budget. Finally we had everything we needed to operate.


The ERS team worked tirelessly on identifying risks and establishing mitigations. Leaving the business running in our absence is thrilling and terrifying, but we can take comfort in the level of training staff have received, the sheer number of SOPs and report templates that have been produced and the double and triple checks that have gone into fool proofing every aspect of the business.

ERS also worked on expanding the business, to justify the costs involved with legitimising the business and leaving it running independently. February confirmed two sales that the January team had initiated, adding another 2 to 3 pickups per week. Further, ERS devised a scheme for expanding into smaller businesses and potentially residential and rural communities. This looks at a far lower price point for a smaller amount of rubbish and a quicker service turnover, simply taking a bag of rubbish onto the truck and replacing it with an empty bag. The team is excited to see the viability of this version of the service in the future.

ERS also continued the prototyping begun by the January team. The glass aggregate mix was finally tested by an Australian construction company in Timor, and appears to need further iteration. The construction company has recommended different sizes and compositions of glass, and this will be up to the July team to investigate.

This entire month has been a rollercoaster of triumphs and failures, but one thing remained consistent; the hustle of the entire ERS team. At each point made the hard decisions and proceeded, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Everest Recycling Solutions has now become a business with the means to operate independently between now and July, and this would have never been possible without the relentless hustle of every single team that has contributed towards this project.


Expect big things from ERS as it continues to grow and evolve in the future.



edited on 16th January 2019, 10:01 by Rose Gooding

Andrew Vild Jul 2, 2018

Status label added: Work Update

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Rose Gooding Jan 16, 2019

Status label added: Project Summary

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