Towards achieving Zero Waste Bhutan by 2030

Zero Waste Bhutan App is currently being developed and it will be used for education, awareness and enforcement purposes

The National Environment Commission (NEC) has presently installed a 300kg/cycle biomedical and hazardous waste incinerator at Memelakha in Thimphu and another 300kg/cycle biomedical and hazardous waste incinerator in Phuentsholing Thromde, Chhukha as part of the activities to achieve Zero Waste Society by 2030.

Further, the construction and operation of nine Drop-Off Centres in Thimphu Thromde and the construction and operation of 25 Waste Collection Facilities in Thimphu dzongkhag are also some of the activities to address waste issues in the capital.   

While nine electric waste collection vehicles were brought, the NEC also identified 48.7 acres of land for Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) at Memelakha to house various waste management facilities.

Other activities towards a Zero Waste Bhutan include signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) amongst the NEC Secretariat, Thimphu Thromde and the Bhutan Ecological Society (BES) for the construction of 10-15 Tons per Day (TPD) biogas/compost plant at the IWMF in Memelakha, launching of 28 waste collection vehicles in collaboration with the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and zero waste Bhutan website (zerowastebhutan.gov.bt) for waste management.

While everyone has the responsibility to solve the problem of waste, an official from the NEC said, “Currently, we are having a tough time in convincing people to segregate their waste and to take responsibility for their own waste.”

However, the NEC is hopeful that there will be changes with the implementation of various education awareness and behavioural change action plans, such as educational and awareness videos, advocacy programs and observing Zero Waste Hour every month, among others.

“We will gain the public’s support in realizing ‘My waste, my responsibility’,” the official said.  

According to the official, Zero Waste means effective source segregation and maximum material recovery with absolute waste of approximately 20% requiring safe disposal.

The official added that the biggest challenge they face is in waste segregation – where waste is segregated into wet, dry and hazardous.

An official from the Greener Way also added that challenges arise when people do not segregate their waste properly.

“While many people are now well aware about waste segregation, there are still a few ignorant people not aware about the importance of waste segregation. Their psychological behaviour depends a lot on addressing waste issues,” the official said.

“Segregation helps the waste collection service providers to differentiate between the types of waste and where they should go after the collection. For instance, segregation will help to save time, resources and moreover it helps to reduce the amount of waste that goes into the landfill,” the official added.

Even though Bhutan has strong legislation and strategies governing waste prevention and management, the official from the NEC said there are still issues concerning the area of monitoring and enforcement due to lack of proper strategic plans to record, track and penalize defaulters.

To make people aware about the waste issue, the Zero Waste Bhutan App is currently being developed and it will be used for education, awareness and enforcement purposes.  

The NEC official said that it will incorporate the educational awareness information from the Zero Waste Bhutan website and the information on offenses and penalties.

Meanwhile, the APP will also be used to register, report, penalize and track offenses, including reporting features for offenses.  

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu