Choki Wangmo

There are enough policies and plans on waste management, but we lack concrete action plan or implementation, according to Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering.

At an open discussion yesterday at the Prime Minister’s office with the officials of National Environment Commission (NEC), Lyonchhen asked NEC to use the national waste management flagship programme (NWMFP) as a vehicle to implement waste management strategy using that the available data.

Since the first plastic ban in 1999, various plans, policies and regulations were drafted until the recent reinforcement of the plastic ban. “We don’t lack in planning, but we lack implementation. There is enough nation-wide documentation, but what we obviously lack is practicality,” Lyonchhen said. “We must be realistic.”

Recent data with NEC shows that the municipal solid dry waste generation was relatively higher (40-45 percent) and about 80 percent of the collected waste still ended up in the landfills.

Meanwhile, household level segregation was comparatively lower and dry waste management was non-existent in rural areas.

Management is further impeded by inadequate infrastructure.

Waste from construction and demolition sites are increasing every year in urban areas but there are no data to study the trends although NEC is working on methods to manage the waste. As of now the waste from construction and demolition sites are either dumped in landfills, illegally along roadsides or in low-lying areas.

Segregation of waste at source and recycling was proven to be the best management method, however, according to some residents in Thimphu, the effort was found to be useless as there are no separate garbage trucks.

“We have allocated different bins allocated for different types of waste but during collection, we mix in one truck,” a Thimphu resident, Wesal Bidha said.

NWFP would ensure a “two-bin-one-bag” model for wet, dry and hazardous or sanitary waste with separate wet and dry waste collection trucks.

Lyonchhen said that it should be three-bin system—green, yellow and red bags with different sizes but of same pattern throughout the nation according to the types of waste. “It would provide economic opportunities for dustbin manufacturers and designers and reduce confusion among public.”

For successful waste management in the country, the Prime Minister said that it was best to first narrow down the focus at gewog or thromde levels instead of taking it at a national level. “For instance, if the implementation is successful in Thimphu thromde, the activities can be replicated in other areas.”

Identifying few nation-wide activities such as awareness programme, three-bin system and coloured garbage trucks were also discussed.

NWMFP is expected to take National Waste Management Strategy forward from strategy to action.  It takes into account behavioural change, technological interventions, sustainable financing, capacity, waste banks and data/information.

The flagship programme emphasises on waste segregation at source, decentralised processing, maximum application of 3Rs, cluster-based integrated waste management (bio-medical, plastic, household hazardous waste and construction and development) and involvement of private sector.

Currently, it was found that the role of private sector in waste management was minimal due to financial reasons.

Lyonchhen reiterated on the need to use the public-private-partnership wherever necessary. “We need to consider other dependent sectors and agencies. Waste management activities should not hamper the overall production.”

Till date, 215 MT of municipal waste is generated daily, 450 MT of bio-medical waste and 2,000-2,500 pieces of e-waste per year.

Meanwhile the green house gas emission from waste is 0.047 million tons of CO2e (2,000) to 0.16 million tons of CO2e (2013), an increase of 247.5 percent.

It is found to be further increasing.