We truly commend Thimphu Thromde Team and the Private Waste Collection Companies for the efforts and their initiatives. As far as we understand, Thimphu is one of the few Asian cities where Waste Segregation at Source is implemented. For that matter, even some European and American cities do not have that system yet!
While we already had some observations on the current system, now the Thromde is even asking building owners to place 2 bins for every house all across the city. Our comments on the system are as below;
- In most part of the city, wet waste is collected once a week and dry waste twice a week. Storing wet/biodegradable waste for 6 days is not hygienic and practically a challenge for many families. Perhaps, the collection for wet waste should be twice and once for dry waste.
- The wet waste collection system on Norzin Lam stinks a lot with the foul smell and the leachate leaching from the truck in the middle of the street leaving behind dirty marks. Something should be done about the issue.
- All families do know about the waste segregation and separate collection days, but we believe not many are aware of the necessity. Most waste and cleaning are dealt by the least educated. It would be necessary to really educate and create awareness on what is biodegradable and what is not, and why we need to segregate them. It would be ideal to have some newspaper or radio or TV advertisements on that for education to achieve better results. Even if there is some, it has to be extensive and persistent.
Now on the proposed system of placement of 2 bins in front of every house. Following are the problems that we anticipate;
- Thimphu is renowned for dogs. How are we going to ensure that all bins will be secured properly? We have all experienced even closed bins left out in the street open with the contents out many a times!. This would only get exaggerated with the wet/biodegradable bins lying around for 6 days in front of every house across the whole city.
- The bins have to be large enough to accommodate the wet/dry waste for 6 days with only once a week waste collection unless we are talking about daily waste collection by the collection system. The waste will get overflown all over the bins or the owners will have to place large bins that will be similar to the previous communal bins we had in common areas. We all remember the problems with the communal bins with stray dogs, mixed waste and also overflowing. The other problem with larger bins will also be space constraint especially in dense areas such as Norzin lam.
- We just found out that the waste collection companies will empty the common building bins. But we know that half of Thimphu’s buildings are off- the road through stairs, footpath and alleys. Practically it would simply be impossible for the collection guys to collect from every house or for the house owners to depute someone to place the bins by the main road. Access to the building bins will be a huge challenge.
- As far as we understand, the bins are ordered as the laws requires house owners to be in-charge of the waste collection and that it would help officer goers who miss the waste collection trucks. However, we are worried that the financial obligation would eventually be passed onto the tenants in the form of increased sweeper/bin charges.
- Besides that, there are definitely better options for people who miss the 8AM/9AM Waste collection trucks. Why can’t we do the collections at 6/7AM or 6/7PM as they do in many other cities? Maybe there should simply be a transfer station or two to do quick rounds of the city.
- Passing on one’s burden to someone just does not sound like a reasonable solution as that would only bring in more complications, problems and pose a public health disaster.
- By the way, citing the various clauses of the acts selectively also is not convincing. There are many other clauses in various such as the 24×7 Water Supply, clean drains, safe and secure footpath etc that are just lying around unanswered.
By Chhimi Dorji
Chhimi Works as a consultant on Water, Hydrology, Climate, Renewable Energy and Environment.