Waste segregation: topic with least attention in Nepal

Waste segregation might probably be a topic with least attention in Nepal. Everybody wants to get rid of waste as soon as possible. Waste, in general term, means stuff that is of no use, it doesn’t matter whatever be nature and origin.  Unfortunately, most common practice here starts with packing the waste in a plastic bag. Then the plastic bag is either thrown on the rickshaw on scheduled pick-up day or dumped in open space, roadside, Riverside.

What is inside the trash bag?

Source: Nepali times

The waste-filled trash bag contains everything from waste food, paper, tiny cartoons, and even electronics waste. There is not much attention on sorting waste and what happens after the waste is thrown away.

Waste Segregation in Nepal

It’s clear that waste segregation in not that popular. It might not be feasible to have different containers. But keeping food/kitchen waste away from plastic, paper, metal, glass textiles is crucial in the waste management chain.

For developing countries, sorting practices might not be affordable and logical. These practices should be made mandatory at some point. Waste segregation practice is a win-win situation both environmentally and financially.

While saying this, in some places like hospital and business complex the segregation practices has begun. Waste containers for different categories of waste in Bir Hospital Kathmandu, as shown in the figure.

Illustration of hospital waste in Bir Hospital, Nepal

Source: WHO

Some of the recycling companies in Nepal are determined to emphasize recycling and minimizing waste to be sent to landfill. Khaalisisi is in business to work as a bridge between entrepreneurs and waste sellers. Another company Doko Recyclers is committed to increasing the recycling rate, consequently lowering carbon emissions.

Practices in developed countries

waste segregation practices

source: inseed.org

There are 4 or more containers for different kinds of waste. Each container is labeled with types of waste it accepts. Different containers are assigned to paper, glass, metal, hazardous waste and biowaste. In most of the European countries, it works this way. While in some cities in the US there can be at least 2 containers. One for biowaste and the other is for recyclable.

Effects of improper segregation

The biowaste contaminates the recyclable i.e. paper, plastic, textiles etc if they are being mixed together. When the recyclable gets contaminated, it reduces the recyclability. At the same time, it is harmful to the people working for collection and sorting of waste. At the end of the day, the waste ends up in the landfill which is not a wise way to manage waste.

There is lack of legislation with clear instruction about waste segregation in federal and state level. Collecting waste from homes should not be only the responsibility of city or municipality, residents also need to be aware of the merits and demerits of improper waste segregation.

Waste segregation at source

Lack of knowledge is observed about the waste, that can actually be managed in a more environment-friendly way. Waste can be financially beneficial if it is sorted and managed properly.

Biowaste which primarily can be managed at home. It should not be mixed with other waste. If we lack space for managing biowaste at home it should be collected in different bins or bags.

The bottom line is that if biowaste is separated at the source it won’t contaminate recyclables, which ultimately increases the recycling efficiency.