Considered a pioneering initiatives to solve the growing waste issue in Bhutan, WWF-Bhutan installed biogas plant with a capacity to digest 1,000 kilos of food waste in one day at Jigme Namgyel Institute of Engineering College (JNEC), Samdrupjongkhar as part of the Waste and Climate Change project that end in December 2022.
The biogas plant would take in all the food waste collected from Samdrupjongkhar Thromde and Deothang satellite town, and turn it into bio-gas, which will be used to run the college kitchen at JNEC.
The 1TPD bio-gas plant would help Samdrupjongkhar Thromde better manage the food wastes that were otherwise taken to landfill and mixed with the dry waste posing great environmental threats, public safety concerns, and incurs cost on the Thromde administration while managing the landfill and transporting the waste to the landfill.
With the start of bio-gas plant, the food waste from Samdrupjongkhar Thromde would be taken to JNEC; the methane gas produced from all sort of food wastes would be used to produce bio-gas, ultimately leading to reduced greenhouse gas emission from Samdrupjongkhar municipal waste sector.
The project also promotes bio-gas plant as clean source of energy. JNEC would be using less and less of liquified petroleum gas to run their kitchen when the bio-gas plant runs in the full capacity. It would also be used for research and study purpose for the students in the campus.
Biogas was identified as the most appropriate Environment Sound Technology because more than 45 percent of the waste produced from in Bhutan comprised of food waste. The project identified the environmentally friendly technology to mitigate Green House Gases (GHG) and Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCPS) emissions from the waste sector.
The piloting of the biogas plant is expected to result in adoption of similar technology in the other municipalities in the country, which would result in effective waste management and mitigation of GHG/SLCPS emission from the waste sector.
The project was implemented in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program with the fund support from International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Waste Management Division of the National Environment Commission Secretariat was the project's implementing partner.
Bhutan is a developing country, waste generation from homes, offices and commercials establishments are ample and increasing every year. However, the basic understanding, collection, and management of waste has not changed in many parts of the country.
Many agencies in Bhutan are working to ensure that the waste issues are taken up seriously; creating awareness on waste management. The government has also enacted the Solid Waste Prevention and Management Act 2009 to deal with solid waste issues, the rules and regulations was framed in 2012, which was further updated in 2016.
Today, inadequate management of solid waste and wastewater is one of the major environment issues in Bhutan. This is mainly because the country is facing huge challenges of rapid urbanization with more than 30 percent of total population living in the urban areas. This is expected to further increase in the next few decades.
While promoting the use of effective technology in the waste management, the waste and climate change project could also influence institutional collaboration, forging collective effort in managing the waste issue in Samdrupjongkhar. The project brought together Samdrupjongkhar Thromde, JNEC and private sector, and established agreements to ensure long-term benefits of the project.
One of the most important aspects of the project was that it pushed for sustainable waste management policy. Since the start of the project, it involved politicians, government leaders, youth and women while developing reports and strategies related to waste.
The project also came up with reports and studies that highlighted critical gaps in the waste management practices and came up with the recommendations to fill the policy gaps. The lack of awareness among the key partner institutions and communities were also highlighted.
The project conducted Waste Inventory and Baseline study report, developed National Waste Management Strategy in June 2019, Gender and Waste Nexus Report, the National Waste Information Management System, among others.
Her Majesty the Queen of Bhutan launched National Waste Management Strategy.
The project also engaged with local influencers, celebrities and youth while developing advocacy and awareness materials. And also developed Behavioral Change Strategy to bring about transformation in the waste management and to help design the waste advocacy interventions by the National Waste Flagship program.
The same project was also implemented in Nepal and Mongolia and helped the countries develop improved waste management systems (policy framework, financing mechanisms, technology and infrastructures) at national and local level. UNEP has been actively working with governments and other institutions to build capacity for waste management and development of conducive policy framework.
In Bhutan, UNEP partnered with WWF-Bhutan to deliver project activities on waste and climate change, taking the advantage of WWF-Bhutan’s technical expertise and for being oldest conservation partner in the country.
Waste management is a common problem that requires multi sectoral engagement and citizens of all age group. The National Waste Management Strategy developed through this project has provided a clear understanding that waste is not an area restricted to a single agency.
The Waste Management Strategies and the National Inventory report that was developed through this project has been widely used.
Moving forward, we take important lessons from the project to keep ourselves well informed of the waste and climate change nexus.
Bhawana Kafley, WWF-Bhutan