Garbage collection truck in Thimphu (Photo Courtsey: GRID-Arendal)

Nu 3.74 bn Waste Management Flagship Program will bring in waste segregation and colored bins instead of people running after late and inefficient trucks

According to the Chief Environment Officer for Waste Management Division with the National Environment Commission Thinley Dorji, a perception survey reveals that the frequency of waste collection services, location of collection point and timing of collection are the major hurdles towards effective collection and management waste in the country.   

“We do not have a full fledged waste management services in the country. While Thimphu has trucks coming to collect garbage and drop in centers as per the survey carried out the frequency of service is not good and time and location of collection point is an issue,” he said.

National Waste Inventory Survey 2019 reveals that Bhutan generates 172.16 Metric Tons of solid waste per day. Of this, the share household waste stands the highest at 47.34 percent followed by commercial units at 39.09 percent.

To address this issue, the government is planning to have color coded segregation bins and collection. Once the flagship components facility infrastructures are put in place, bins will be color coded into blue, green and red color, the blue for the dry waste, green for the wet waste and red for some hazardous waste.

He said that the soft segregation will be followed by the households and at the same time the government does not want to have the same truck to pick up all the waste. “So through this flagship program we will have different trucks which will be color coded with this three different colors to collect the waste in the country,” he said, adding that for specialized waste like bio medical waste, e-waste, automobile waste and then construction demolition waste it will have separate management system.

He added, “When the truck comes people come rushing, so through the program if it is a five apartment building you will have smaller bins in your house and we will have same color coded bins in each residential complex and at your own convenient time you can go and drop it down. The waste provider will come and attend to that. You don’t have to run for the truck. In certain areas we have individual residents who will not have these bins but if they miss the trucks they will have drop off centers.”

He also added that they have already started the construction of ten additional drop off centers in Thimphu in ten locations.

“Once we have collected, segregated and transported to our facility properly then it is very simple task. The organic waste will be used for organic manure making bio gas for cooking and also to generate electricity. The non organic waste coming from blue bins and red bins will go under waste treatment, recovery and recycling plans. The final disposal has to be done in a landfill but the landfills we have in twenty dzongkhags are not sanitary landfills but an open dump yard. So we have planned everything to address this issue,” he added.

 In terms of household waste, the average household waste generated is 0.7 kg per day in urban areas compared to 0.4 kg per day in rural areas. 46 percent of the total waste comprises food waste.

He said, “As per the percentage of households willing to pay for waste management service, surprisingly we received very good responses from the people. 73 percent are willing to pay a monthly fee for managing their waste provided they get efficient services.”

He also said that in most of the urban centers, the municipal waste collection system, to a large extent, have been established by the local authorities in collaboration with private waste management entities.

“It has been going for years now and it is never proving to be affective, so through the flagship we have proposed that the infrastructure will be built by the government and then we will engage the private sectors to operate this,” he said.

The total budget estimated for the whole program is Nu 3.74 billion. The flagship program intends to provide an end to end intervention for waste management in the country through multi-pronged approaches. The Overall goal is to achieve Zero Waste Bhutan whereby the current trend of disposing over 80 percent to the landfill is reversed to less than 20 percent by the year 2030.

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