6-12 June 2014 #710

Waste should not be wasted

Reuse, reduce and recycle: the answer to Kathmandu Valley’s garbage problem
Bhrikuti Rai

Meera Shrestha is among few Kathmandu residents who segregates her household waste to reuse and recycle what she can. Kitchen waste is used to fertilise her kitchen garden, the glass and plastic is sold to garbage collectors for recycling.

Shrestha household’s daily efforts at waste segregation helps reduce the amount of garbage which gets dumped at the Valley’s only working landfill, Sisdole which is almost full and during the monsoons is frequently cut off from the city by floods and landslides.

If only there were more households like the Shresthas, Kathmandu would not have a garbage problem. The challenge is to convince city residents to reduce consumption, recycle what they can, and know that “waste” should not be wasted.

Kathmandu Valley generates almost 1000 tons of solid waste each day of which 65 per cent is organic. But the waste is not segregated and everything is dumped at the landfill site. According to an Asian Development Bank study conducted last year, household waste contributed 50-70 per cent total solid waste generation from 58 municipalities.

“If people start segregating household waste at source, and make use of the organic waste we would save a lot of money that is now spent on transporting it to landfill site,” says Rabin Man Shrestha at Kathmandu Metropolitan City Office which spends 10 per cent of its entire budget on solid waste collection and disposal.

The Solid Waste Management Act 2011 fosters public-private partnership and sets regulations and fines for transgressors and requires every household to sort waste.

“The Act mandates that waste needs to be separated at source. This is the first step for effective waste management but it is rarely done. Some municipalities such as Hetauda have started but much more needs to be done,” says Bhusan Tuladhar of UN-Habitat.

Implementation would be easier if the municipalities sub-contracted solid waste management to private companies willing to collect, recycle and generate income from selling fertiliser and energy from city garbage. A much-delayed tender process for this is still in limbo.

Source: Solid Waste Management and Technical Support Centre

“We are looking at options from local and foreign companies to implement large scale recycling projects, produce biogas from waste and even generate electricity,” says Sumitra Amatya, director of Solid Waste Management and Technical Support Centre in Pulchok.

Several private companies that were interested in setting up a string of waste-to-energy and waste-to-fertiliser ventures were discouraged by endemic corruption and lack of initiative from successive governments.

Amatya admits that a lack of political will to tackle garbage management and people’s negative attitude towards waste segregation has delayed the process. She adds: “Waste management is a bigger problem than the waste itself.”

Read also:

Recycle, reuse, reduce

Out of sight is not out of mind, Bhrikuti Rai

Rubbish life, Nayantara Gurung Kakshapati

Wealth from waste, Bhushan Tuladhar