Thimphu Thromde’s plan to construct sanitary landfill to replace the open dump yard in Memelakha is welcome.

A sanitary landfill is a modern engineering landfill where waste is allowed to decompose into biologically and chemically inert materials in a setting isolated from the environment. Sanitary landfills are among the most common E-waste disposal technique which aims to reduce or mitigate the potential risks associated with the environment and human health.

About 48.7 acres of land in Memelakha has been identified to construct an integrated waste management facility where there will be sanitary landfill, recycling plant, stockyard, compost or biogas, construction and demolition plant, and incineration plant.

The old landfill was built in 1993 to last for 10 years.

The advantage of the sanitary landfill is that it could last for almost 30 years 29.

In Thimphu, waste disposed at the landfill increased by about 4,800 metric tonnes in 2021 compared with 2019. In 2019, about 14,824.8 metric tonnes  of waste was disposed in the landfill.

And, scientifically, the lifespan of new sanitary landfill is dependent entirely on the segregation and recycling of waste. That means there is an opportunity for us to invest a lot on waste recycling, which is a very profitable and clean business.

The good news is that a flagship programme is introducing waste segregation, collection, transportation, treatment, recovery, and disposal facilities throughout the country in a phased manner starting with Thimphu. It seems that, finally, we are getting somewhere in dealing with our mounting waste problem.

Japan has been our steadfast friend that has been helping us with donations of compactor trucks and machinery required to address the waste problem. Our aim is to achieve zero-waste. It isn’t a tall order.

This is an important development which should inspire us to devise tools and policies to control one of the most harmful waste products in the history of mankind.

The coming of waste management flagship programme promises to augment the implementation of the ban and reduce plastic waste in the country.

What we need to remind ourselves is that the impact of unmanaged waste on the country’s fragile ecology will be costly. Earnest effort ought to be made to wean ourselves off plastic bags and waste.