It is a special edition on waste, I was told. I was asked to look for an idea. As a newcomer, I didn’t know. All ideas were taken.
My editor asked me to take a walk, about a kilometer, and see what I could find. Walking more than a kilometer, this is what I observed.
With only a day left for the reinforcement of the 1999 ban on plastic to come into effect, I saw there is more than plastic carry bags, doma wrappers and ice cream (pepsi) pouches.
We need not have to take a long walk. It is there, in every step we take, plastic of all kinds. PET bottles, junk food packets, plastic utensil and cutlery, plastic wrappers and bags are the major trash, particularly in the town areas.
Littering and dumping of all kinds of waste along the roadside and in areas other than disposal sites are common sights in any location in Thimphu.
The Kay Dee sawmill area at Changzamtog, where my walk began, looks like a dump yard.
Discarded clothes, old shoes, plastic wrappers and bag, PET bottles, glass bottles, diapers, used mobile recharge vouchers, cigarette covers, batteries, household cleaning products, cosmetics, automobile maintenance products and electronic wastes are strewn in the vicinity of the sawmill.
Residents claim they are managing their waste. They feel people residing in nearby areas are dumping it there under the blanket of darkness.
There is a group of sawmill workers who dump in the pit in front of their huts. One of them said the garbage truck comes to collect waste every week, but they still dump it there.
A contractor working on a futsal ground in the vicinity pointed that the problem is mainly with the failure to carry out timely investigation and implementation of rules by thromde.
Bhutan Agro Industries, producer of bottled water in PET bottles has initiatives. Managing Director, Gyem Dorji said that they collect all the waste generated at source and give it to Greener Way to be recycled and reused. However, for the waste littered in public places, they have no control. “We remain accountable and support organizations and volunteers who conduct cleaning campaigns,” he said.
Gelephu Distillery, another source of PET and glass bottles carries out similar initiatives to address waste management, according to the Managing Director. The glass waste generated at source are collected and given to scarp vendors.
Currently, the factory is considering acquiring a glass bottle washing machine and improving the incentives for scrap vendors.