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Press Release on Waste Management Flagship Program

Press Release

Waste Management and Stray Dog Population Control Flagship Program

October 30, 2020

Notwithstanding the strong legislation and strategy governing waste prevention and management in Bhutan, waste management triggered by population growth, rapid urbanization, and rural-urban migration, remains an issue of national concern. Improper disposal practices and lack of appropriate infrastructure and technologies hinders Bhutan from turning wastes into resources.

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

Of the total households in Bhutan, more than 60 percent lacks access to waste collection services in the country. However, more than 75 percent of the urban households has access to waste collection services against 15 percent of the rural households. In urban areas, 88.5 percent of the households segregate their waste compared to 78.4 percent in rural areas.

In most of the urban centres, the municipal waste collection system, to a large extent, have been established by the local authorities in collaboration with private waste management entities. The local government and the private entities provide waste services ranging from three days to five days a week. In addition, waste segregation has been initiated but the level of segregation varies widely. However, the 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 of waste.

Currently, waste treatment, recovery and recycling are minimal. As a result, the landfills in Bhutan are overflowing. While a fraction of valuable dry waste is collected and sold to the recyclers, composting is negligible[1] and there are no systems in place for managing household hazardous waste. Furthermore, there is no established system for waste management in the rural areas. While some of the wastes are managed by the Dzongkhag, especially in peri-urban areas, most wastes are left unattended and dumped in open fields or burned. Overall, the local governments are overwhelmed with the growing waste problems.

Against these backdrops, there is a need to institute a holistic waste management practices across the country to address the growing waste related problems. Therefore, in line with the National Waste Management Strategy 2019, the Royal Government of Bhutan endorsed ‘Waste Management and Stray Dog Population Control’ as a flagship program on January 23, 2020. Prior to the government endorsement, Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen most graciously launched the Waste Management Flagship Programme on June 2, 2019.

The flagship program intends to provide an end-to-end intervention for waste management in Bhutan through multi-pronged approaches. The overall goal is to achieve Zero Waste Bhutan whereby the current trend of disposing over 80% to the landfill is reversed to less than 20% by the year 2030 based on the principles of circular economy. This can be achieved through the propagation of 100% source segregation and provision of adequate downstream facilities for source segregation, adequate number of waste collection facilities & drop-off centres at convenient locations, efficient collection, storage and transportation systems, functional material recovery facilities and final disposal facilities such as sanitary landfills and incineration plants. These facilities will be complemented by education and awareness on the consequences of unmanaged waste to both human health and the environment; policy interventions, particularly on the establishment of a sustainable financial mechanism to realize a self-sustaining model for effective and efficient management of all streams of waste; and private sector involvement in provision of waste management services.

[1] Only 1.77% of wastes from the commercial units are composted, for instance.

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