The population of Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan, is currently around 100,000
persons, which comprises 12.5% of the national population and 40% of the urban
population. At the current growth rate, it is estimated that by 2020 some 88% of
the urban population will live in Thimphu, and by 2027 the population is expect to
reach 1,620,000. The increase in population has resulted in a proportionate increase
in different types of waste from households, institutions, and commercial establishments.
Thimphu currently generates about 50 metric tons of solid wastea number projected
to double by 2025. Waste collection is done door to door by the municipal office.
All types of waste are collected in one single bin. Thimphu spends about US$260,000
annually on solid waste management for the city, which constitutes 18% of its annual
budget and comes to an annual cost of about US$3.00 per resident. The recovery
rate is US$0.02 per capita (6%), indicating that 94% of the total annual waste management expenses are subsidized by the government. Indeed, 55% of the amount spent on
solid waste management is dedicated to collection alone.
Given the importance of solid waste mangement, the government has put into place
a number of policies and guidelines related to waste management. The most important
document was the Waste Prevention and Management Act 2009, which named the
Thimphu Municipal office as the implementating agency for all types of waste within
its jurisdiction. The biggest challenge in waste management is the lack of institutional
capacity and poor and inadequate infrastructures. Public understanding of proper waste
management and its positve affects on social and environmental well-being is also
lacking. To address these issues, the Thimphu Municipal office has initiated a number
of plans and programs to tackle the waste management issue. A compost plant to
recycle degradable waste and a PET bottle crushing plant for plastic bottles have already been set up. A similar facility will be set up for glassware. A plan has also been developed to establish a waste recovery station within the municipal area so that the volume of waste reaching landfill sites is reduced. The public education and awareness program will be continued. Involving private parties in waste management is also high on municipal waste management agenda. The lessons learned in Korea and from site visits will be very useful in moving forward with these plans based on further reasoning and better approaches.
Key Words: Thimphu Municipality, Solid Waste, Waste Management, Recycle, Landfill