Chhimi Dema  

Identifying violators for improper waste disposal and illegal dumping has been a challenge in solid waste management so far.

The National Environment Commission secretariat (NEC) to address the problem launched the Zero Waste Bhutan application yesterday.

The app allows individuals to report violations of the waste regulation anonymously or by registering in the app. Incident reporters get 30 percent of the penalty amount imposed on the defaulters as incentives.

The public can also view the revised fines and penalties, and locate waste collection facilities or drop-off centres through the app. The public can register offences starting December 15.

The app is available on Google Playstore and App Store. As of yesterday, 548 individuals registered in the app and 26 incidences were recorded through it.

NEC secretary, Sonam P Wangdi, said that the app is a “digital enforcement system” for proper waste management in the country.

With this app, he said, NEC has upscaled monitoring and enforcement of waste management.

International reports show the world generates 2.01 billion metric tonnes (MT) of solid waste annually, with at least 33 percent of that not managed in an environmentally safe manner.

Global waste is expected to grow to 3.40 billion MT by 2050.

Bhutan produced 172MT of waste a day, according to a 2019 report carried out by the National Statistics Bureau.

Sonam P Wangdi said that the digital enforcement system could mandate every citizen to be an enforcer.

The country has “hordes of waste warriors to trace, track and penalise defaulters,” he added.

The chair of the waste management committee, Karma Yonten, also the head of the Office of Performance Management under His Majesty’s Secretariat, highlighted the initiatives carried out by the committee in the past few months.

The committee carried out inspections in Thimphu and Paro dzongkhags held conferences with dzongdags on waste management in dzongkhags, and initiated night waste collection in Thimphu thromde as a trial, among other initiatives.

Karma Yonten said, “To ensure there is good intersectoral cooperation, the Waste Management Committee was formed with members from different stakeholders.”

The committee was formed in November through an executive order from the Prime Minister.

NEC also launched a TikTok challenge on waste awareness. Winners with the highest views on the video posted would win Samsung phones, Teclast tabs, and mobile data recharges.

TikTok is a short-form video hosting service owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance.