…𝘽𝙝𝙪𝙩𝙖𝙣 𝙝𝙖𝙨 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙛𝙖𝙧 𝙞𝙣 𝙬𝙖𝙨𝙩𝙚 𝙢𝙖𝙣𝙖𝙜𝙚𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩. 𝙉𝙤𝙬, 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙮𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙢 𝙢𝙖𝙠𝙚𝙨 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙮 𝙘𝙞𝙩𝙞𝙯𝙚𝙣 𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙥𝙤𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙗𝙡𝙚 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙞𝙧 𝙤𝙬𝙣 𝙬𝙖𝙨𝙩𝙚.
By Susmika Subba
In an unwavering commitment to sustainability, Bhutan has emerged as a beacon for innovative waste management practices, serving as a model for nations striving to address environmental concerns. The country’s waste management system combines inventive approaches with active community involvement, presenting a noteworthy framework for effective waste solutions.
In Thimphu, waste management operates through a system of outsourcing waste collection and disposal services to competent private contractors. The responsibilities encompass overseeing landfill operations, managing solid waste contracts, enforcing national waste management regulations, and fostering public education on effective waste management practices.
Sangay, a Thimphu resident, expressed her perspective on Bhutan’s waste management evolution, stating, “Bhutan has come far in waste management. Now the system makes every citizen responsible for their own waste.”
Chimi Dema, a Desuung, expressed her perspective on waste management, emphasizing its pivotal role in environmental conservation. She said, “Recognizing the significance of waste management, I believe it is a crucial aspect. The importance of waste management is evident, given that it is a topic covered in the recent 2023 RCSC question paper. Waste management plays an important role, affecting the environment, water bodies, atmosphere, and people’s lives.”
Pema Lhamo, a housewife, highlighted the positive impact of awareness campaigns, stating, “With repeated information from the Thromde and all the promotion, I became informed about waste management and its related laws and regulations.”
The current waste collection contract offers four waste collection days per week in Thimphu City, with a distinction between dry and wet waste collection days. However, there are variations in frequency, with some areas experiencing collections five times a week.
While there is positive feedback on the improvements in waste management, some residents believe there is room for enhancement. Kinga Dorji, working at a consultancy firm, pointed out areas with dumped waste, urging Thromde to show more interest in core city cleanliness. He said, “I believe there is still room for improvement in waste management, considering the numerous places where waste is dumped, often attracting stray dogs. Take, for instance, the grass area near the city bus parking- it’s filled with waste, and there seems to be little interest from Thromde in addressing the issue. This area is at the core of the city, and when visitors or people from other dzongkhags come, they observe such conditions and may judge the entire city. Therefore, I hope to see more enhancements around the central areas of the city.”
Nima Dolma, a student at Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Science (KGUMS), raised concerns about the lack of a strong waste management policy, citing instances of individuals disposing of waste in rivers at night. She said, “I maintain the view that our country lacks a robust waste management policy. Recently, I observed a couple disposing of waste into the river during the nighttime, thinking that no one would see them. This is not an isolated incident; when discussing it with my friends, they shared similar stories of witnessing such behavior. While Thromde has implemented various strategies and awareness campaigns, there are still individuals who pay little attention and choose to ignore the issue. More action may be needed to address such behaviors.”
In response to the mentioned concern, Thimphu Thromde said, “Thromde remains committed to spreading awareness about proper waste management, and this includes imposing penalties on those who violate regulations. Due to the vast area coverage, specific teams dedicated to enforcing waste disposal restrictions near rivers may not be in place. However, inspectors actively monitor designated zones within Thimphu Thromde, keeping a close eye on sites to address issues like illegal waste dumping and burning.”
Thimphu Thromde acknowledged ongoing efforts to disseminate information, penalize defaulters, and monitor waste disposal activities. Thimphu Thromde emphasized ongoing efforts to enforce waste management regulations, with sanitary inspectors monitoring and penalizing defaulters. The use of the Zero Waste App facilitates penalties according to the Waste Management Act and Regulation. Thimphu Thromde promotes waste segregation into wet and dry categories, encouraging further segregation at waste drop-off centers. Future projects include outsourcing the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Taba to reduce stress on the landfill by promoting recycling and material recovery.