Waste Management

Nepal: Waste management needs to get up to speed in Kathmandu

In Kathmandu Valley, waste management still takes the back seat when it comes to public service provision.

In Kathmandu Valley, waste management still takes the back seat when it comes to public service provision.

A large proportion of waste in the city is still dumped on Sisdol landfill, the heaps of refuse being a cause of public outrage in the neighbourhood.

Beyond the immediate olfactory and aesthetic challenge presented by said rampant waste dumping, its composition in the local context is particularly noteworthy.

As public awareness on matters of proper waste management, especially with regards to waste segregation for recycling is low, residents are prone to dispose both dry and wet waste together, rendering proper processing and reuse difficult.

Financial constraints have served to inhibit waste management in Kathmandu, with residents in slums and remote areas being unable to pay local governments and private organisations for waste collection services. A lack of technical know-how has only served to exacerbate this situation.

The proliferation of medical waste and its intermixing in common household waste represents another challenge to the system. A majority of said waste ends up on landfills without prior or only with partial treatment.

Open dumping is also a prevalent practice, both in Kathmandu and Nepal as a whole.

Yet there is scope for a better waste management operation considering that 75% of waste generated consists of biodegradable, organic matter whilst the remainder at 15% is also recyclable. In this sense, only 10% of waste needs to be diverted to landfill.

Locally, the informal recycling sector for dry recyclables is thriving, with informal waste pickers selling recovered metals to scrap shops. Rates for organic recycling lag behind, however- considering the city’s large amount of biowaste, this represents a cause for concern.  

An improved waste management system would require clearer delineations when it comes to the separation and treatment of waste (particularly of a biomedical nature!) as well as a shift in public awareness around issues regarding recycling and waste management.

In Kathmandu, 3,32 million people are responsible for generating more than 1200 tons of solid waste, most of which is dumped openly, gets sent to landfills or is incinerated.