Managing solid waste is one of the major challenges of urbanization. Municipalities tolerate the burden of provision of basic services such as water supply, electricity, wastewater treatment, and municipal solid waste management. A case study of three municipalities – Hetauda, Damak and Birtamod – in Terai region show municipal solid waste management scenario, practice and problems.
Hetauda Sub-Metropolitan City was established as a municipality in the year 2026 BS, located in the valley between the Mahabharat and the Chure, which was later upgraded as Sub-Metropolis with 19 administrative wards.
Hetauda Municipality has taken various initiatives for a better functioning of Solid Waste Management (SWM) in the city. The most prominent approach has been the segregation of MSW at source with the Green and Blue Channel color based system; a source segregation system practiced in urban wards 2 & 4 covering around 6000 households. In these two wards, Hetauda Municipality has provided Green Colored Bins for collection of Degradable or Wet/Organic Wastes and Blue Colored Bins for collection of Non-Degradable Dry/Recyclable Wastes but this is not so in rest of the wards. People from rural areas utilize the organic waste for feeding cattle or powering the small household bio-gas digesters and also dispose waste by open burning and open space dumping as the waste collection is not frequent and smooth.
A Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement has been ongoing between Hetauda Municipality and a private company; Clean and Green City Services Pvt. Ltd. for an effective solid waste management. It conducts door-to-door collections at the source points.
The Municipality has a Resource Recovery Facility at the secondary waste collection point with a compost plant also been established for utilizing the organic waste to produce marketable compost fertilizer. A large amount of these materials continues to be disposed at the controlled dumping site besides Rapti Khola River. About 24-27 metric tons of MSW is collected each day from households, businesses and commercial industries of the municipality. In contrast, the collection is merely 43-48% of the total municipal solid waste generation capacity (55.7 metric ton).
Damak Municipality lies in Jhapa district; established as a municipality in the year 1990 AD is located in the valley between the Ratuwa River in the east and the Maawa River in the west. Damak Municipality consists of 10 wards merged from previous 19 wards.
Similar to Hetauda, Damak Municipality has also done a PPP agreement with Pathway Nepal Pvt. Ltd. Pathway Nepal conducts door-to-door collections at source and also from waste hotspots like vegetable waste from the vegetable markets of the municipality. There is neither any source segregation centre nor any practice of segregation undertaken by Damak Municipality or Pathway Nepal Pvt. Ltd at source points. A government body, Solid Waste Management Technical Support Center (SWMTSC), Pulchwok, Lalitpur has provided technical assistance and machineries to the municipality for installing a compost plant. But it has not been commenced due to lack of skilled manpower. The wastes are dumped on the bank of Ratuwa River, which is a temporary dumping site. This temporary dumping site is not well managed causing health hazards to people living in close vicinity. There are disputes between the municipality and the local people living near the dumping sites time to time about not managing the dumping site properly.
Birtamod Municipality is one of the important commercial hub and business centre in Jhapa district established as a municipality in 2071 BS by merging Anarmani, Charpane and Gramani VDC with 10 wards. Municipality has taken very ordinary solid waste management initiatives. It directly manages the municipal solid waste itself without any sort of PPP model adopted. It has hired a team of local persons for the daily waste collection job. Waste is collected daily in morning and afternoon. Approximately 15 quintal waste is collected per day. According to SWM baseline study of Pathak (2017) average per capita household waste of Birtamod municipality is 151 grams/capita/day. And the household waste composition comprises mostly of 82.17% organic, 11.43% plastic, and other materials in small portions.
The collection is done only at main city and market areas and no door to door household waste collection. Waste segregation is not done, so mixed wastes go to dumping site. There is no dedicated resource recovery centre. Scrape pickers pick out recyclable materials like plastic PET bottles from waste heap deposited in street side in market areas and in dumping site. The waste collection currently is done only in wards 1,3,4,5 and 8. It temporarily dumps wastes on the bank of Mechi River near Mechi Bridge which is causing problems and disputes between the local people and the Birtamod municipality. Birtamod municipality is planning to buy land and establish a dumping site near Deuniya River hopefully solving the current waste dumping problem.
Hetauda Sub-metropolis has applied the 3R’s principle implementing source segregation, be it only in two wards for now and hopefully which it will go on to expand in the future. Birtamod and Damak municipality are struggling with dumping their wastes properly. Waste segregation at source is not implemented and not in practice. Health hazards like disease vectors, flies, contamination to local people living near dumping sites etc. is posing threat as these municipalities are struggling to manage their dumping sites. Comparing between the practices and implementation of municipal solid waste management one might have done better than other but all have the common problem of implementation of waste segregation at source, health and environmental risks. All the three municipalities might face the hazards that the dumping sites will create in near future like disease outbreak, leachate contamination to river and ground water as all the dumping sites of these municipalities are placed beside rivers. Collection is not so efficient and in some case insufficient. People are aware about problems of waste but are not habitual in taking actions for it.
The municipalities can change their disadvantage to advantage, their problems into solution their bane into boon by using the dump waste as resources and raw material for creating something useful like converting waste into energy, recycling which will not only reduce their landfill waste drastically but create more income generating opportunities. The large proportion of reusable and recyclable materials provides a great opportunity for increasing waste reuse and recycling. 3R can be promoted to significantly reduce the amount of waste to be disposed of at final disposal sites, thereby saving costs for final disposal and reducing public health and environmental risks. One of the major ideas that could be followed for better management of the waste is segregation of waste at source level. This would require better public awareness of the benefits of waste segregation and recycling, and technical skills and knowledge among municipal staff. Composting plants can be developed in communities or municipalities depending upon their capacity, size, population and level of interest. For the problem of collection, source segregation and implementation of 3R’s principle let’s hope the municipalities will take some time for it as some of the municipalities are established recently with added burden of more area and people to serve. Nepal’s MSW has a large organic content, constituting 66% of household waste and 56%of waste overall (ADB, 2013); so the large organic waste is a great raw material for establishing biogas plants for various purposes like electricity generation or fuel. Plastic wastes can be used to produce diesel with the advancing technologies of today. Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) is playing a meaningful role in field of renewable energy. Also there is some subsidy given for establishing alternative energy projects. The municipalities can benefit from this as well as private developers. The municipalities can invite proposals from interested private developers to undertake the project on their behalf to increase biogas production and maximize profits.It is a win-win situation for municipalities with effective management of waste and energy generation. The solution lies within the problem.
Asian Development Bank (2013) Solid Waste Management in Nepal Current Status and Policy Recommendations
Pathak, D.R. (2017) Solid Waste Management Baseline Study of 60 New Municipalities