Choki Wangmo

If the problem of waste is a war to be won through mindset and behavioural change, Waste Warriors (WW) are here preparing for the battle.

This time, the schools are taking the lead. First started by a teacher in Lobesa lower secondary school, WW, the school-based waste management system, advocates for the cause.

The founder of WW, Sonam Norbu, believes in climate action through mindful waste management system and zero waste with consistent individual actions and sustainable lifestyles. The initiative, which is gaining popularity among schools and colleges in the country, is dedicated to His Majesty The King’s 40th birth anniversary.

As a part of the initiative, WW will start a nation-wide road cleaning campaign next month. Themed “Climate action through clean and green roads”, the event aims to involve at least 200 schools in Bhutan and clean a minimum of 1500km of road.

More than 100 schools have registered for the event.

Sonam Norbu said that in urban areas, roadsides were treated like dumping yards which required collective action rather than organisations working in silos. “At the end of the event, schools will adopt certain kilometres of road. The instilled sense of ownership gives them the responsibility of taking care of the infrastructure.”

WW is also the second phase of the trashtag challenge that was coordinated through social media platforms last year in around 140 schools in Bhutan. Sonam Norbu said the impact of trashtag challenge encouraged the team to initiate WW.

WW expects to reduce challenges of waste in schools and communities through practical, consistent and dedicated plan of action through reduction and refusal of plastic through plastic pledges, proper segregation, and recycling options. The team is in the process of drafting a waste management plan of action.

Sonam Norbu said that Waste Warriors would involve related stakeholders and the project could be run as a club.  “WW will work on the philosophy of leading by example so that we can lead our future into sensible waste management practitioners.”

According to a National Environment Commission report the generation of municipal solid dry waste is relatively higher (40-45 percent) and about 80 percent of the collected waste still end up in the landfills.

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.

The National Waste Management Flagship Programme is expected to take National Waste Management Strategy forward from strategy to action, taking into account the behavioural change, technological interventions, sustainable financing, capacity, waste banks and data/information.