Thinley Namgay   

After receiving training from the Tarayana Foundation in 2018 to develop products from plastic waste,  Chogyal Lhamo, 45, from Trongsa thought to open an outlet for plastic products and make it big.

At that time, she was concerned about waste and women’s participation to address the waste issue in the country.  So, Chogyal Lhamo opened an outlet at Choekhor, Bumthang and since has been operating the business successfully with five staff.

Today, she makes more than five types of products such as baskets, handbags, tsezems and wallets, among others.  It takes three days to weave a basket. Price of the products ranges from Nu 250 to Nu 2,500.

Chogyal Lhamo said, “People buy tsezem mostly as a gift. Business has been good so far. Demand is high. In fact, we are struggling to meet the demand.”

“Recycling plastics is an opportunity,” she said, adding that all plastics could be recycled except sanitary pads and huggies.

She delivers products by taxis or buses.  Chogyal earns at least Nu 25,000 to Nu 30,000 a month by selling plastic products.

Her husband, who works in the dzongkhag office, helps the staff and also collects waste during leisure time. Her children also assist during holidays.

Chogyal said, “In the past, people used to provide plastics for free.  Now some people are charging for plastic waste.”

Chogyal Lhamo is also a founder of the Women Recycler of Bhutan and has been collecting waste since 2008 in collaboration with the National Environment Commission. The group has 615 women from across the country.

Members contact Chogyal and send the products to her outlet.

Chogyal said she is focusing on waste management so that it could help Bhutan achieve zero waste by 2030. She said people should adopt positive habits and be able to segregate degradable and non-degradable waste.