Turning waste into wealth

Biodegradable: Thimphu thromde’s compost plant is not only seeing an increase in biodegradable waste, but has also started churning out money from the waste, which the municipal office was overwhelmed with until recently.

The compost plant in Serbithang receives about four tonnes of organic waste daily, except on Sundays.  This is an threefold increase compared with previous years.

The increase in disposable or organic waste at the plant is attributed to the outsourcing of waste collection to a private firm, Greener Way, in January this year.  Greener Way disposed 226 truckloads (565,000kg) of organic waste to the compost plant in the last four months, according to its officials.

Head of solid waste of Thimphu thromde, Yeshi Wangdi, said segregation of waste at source, which Greener Way insists on, has helped reduce waste at the Memelakha landfill, and increased organic waste at their compost plant. “Waste was segregated at the Farmers Centenary Market and a pilot area in Chubachu in the past,” he said.  Waste collection was outsourced to encourage waste segregation at source and reduce the amount reaching Memelakha, he added.

According to Greener Way officials, on an average, 1,010 metric tonnes of waste are dumped at the Memelakha landfill every month.  About 62 percent of the amount has been diverted from the landfill as of now.

At the plant, waste is turned into manure and sold for Nu 110 for a 12-kg bag.  Wet waste is collected in an open air chamber and left to decay.  There are six chambers, where waste goes through a decaying process.  When the waste reaches the last chamber, it is considered decayed.  The decayed waste is then dried and filtered from foreign substances like plastics.  The waste is further filtered.  Finally, the powdered waste, which has become manure, is packed in a 12-kg bag for supply.  It takes about five months for the organic waste to fully decompose.

A chamber of decayed organic waste produces more than 100 bags of manure, said Lach Maya, a thromde worker at the compost plant.

Yeshi Wangdi said the capacity of the compost plant was about one metric tonne.  The plant is being upgraded and it is expected to finish by this month.

Thimphu thromde earned Nu 76,000 from the sale of manure in the last four months.

By Dechen Tshomo

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