Bold Steps Towards Sustainable Waste Management

In a resounding call to action against the growing menace of plastic pollution and river contamination, Bhutan takes a significant stride forward with the “Reimagining Effective Partnerships for Tackling Plastic Waste and River Pollution” project. Led by Gross International Nature (GIN), in collaboration with Bhutan Ecological Society (BES) and Clean Bhutan, this initiative seeks to revolutionize waste management practices at the grassroots level.

Yesterday, within the hallowed grounds of the Royal Body Guard (RBG) in Thimphu, over 200 individuals participated in a day-long “Household Level Waste Management Advocacy” program. Among them, Kuchum, a 63-year-old waste advocate from Yusipang under Chang Gewog in Thimphu, stood out prominently. Her dedication to cleanliness and waste collection has made her a local champion in her community.

Kuchum’s message reverberated through the gathering as she highlighted the alarming increase in waste generation, attributing it to shifting consumption patterns and rising imports. She emphasized the religious and health implications of pollution, calling for stricter regulations and proactive waste segregation at the household level.

The founder of GIN, Tshering Lhamo, echoed Kuchum’s concerns, underlining the urgent need for innovative solutions to tackle plastic pollution. With GIN’s ambitious plans to establish 20 filtration systems and a recycling hub, the project aims to process recyclable materials into eco-friendly products like bricks and pellets, thus curbing the flow of plastic waste into landfills.

Collaborating with international partners like Precious Plastics (Netherlands) and local entities such as Tashi Beverages and Clean Bhutan, the project aims to engage over 1,500 beneficiaries, with a special focus on marginalized sectors like youth and women. Through advocacy, river clean-ups, and community engagement, the project strives to instill a culture of reuse, recycling, and refusal of plastic.

The scope of the project extends to eight communities in Thimphu, targeting areas where waste management infrastructure is most needed. By harnessing advanced technologies and community participation, the project anticipates preventing approximately 422 tonnes of plastic waste from reaching landfills annually, thus mitigating around 1,266 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Supported by the Plastic Free Rivers and Seas for South Asia grant, funded by the World Bank and implemented in collaboration with the South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme, UNOPS, and local bodies, this initiative marks a significant step towards a cleaner, greener Bhutan.

As the project marches towards its conclusion in January 2025, it signals not only a commitment to environmental stewardship but also a testament to Bhutan’s unwavering dedication to sustainable development. With collective efforts and visionary leadership, Bhutan paves the way for a brighter, cleaner future for generations to come.

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