Nepal | June 02, 2020

Value in waste

Sujata Awale
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KMC’s pilot project’s success could lead to similar projects in other municipalities and involvement of the private sector on a bigger scale

Energy Bin. Photo: Ranup Shrestha/THT

Energy Bin. Photo: Ranup Shrestha/THT

Kathmandu

Solid waste management is always an uphill task for Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC). To manage organic waste, for the first time in Nepal, KMC with support from the European Union (EU) has successfully installed a waste-to-energy plant at the Teku transfer centre. The project has been initiated as a one-year pilot project. The system will consume three tonnes of solid organic waste daily and produce 14 kilowatts of electricity.

Besides producing electricity, the plant will also produces 300 kilograms of bio-organic fertiliser, 300 cubic metre of biogas along with 1,500 litres of treated water. Stakeholders stated that the project is a positive step to manage solid waste in a sustainable way.

Leading by example

According to the KMC, they collect 500 tonnes of waste every day and 70 per cent of that waste is organic. “With the successful installation of the project, it will surely help the metropolitan city to manage its organic waste on a daily basis,” said Gyanendra Karki, Spokesperson of the KMC. He further said, “It will cut down the expenses of the municipality on managing solid waste each year.”

Karki informed that each year KMC spends Rs 500 million in fuel, staff and other development activities at the Sisdole dumping side. He further said, “If this pilot project is successful, waste can be managed at its source by establishing this technology.” As of now, the plant will consume the organic waste of ward number 12, 15, 18 and 20.

Citing that they are waiting for the results, he said, “We will study this pilot project and plan accordingly for the future.” Being optimistic about the project, he said, “Waste that was the main source of pollution can be used for generating electricity, water, bio-gas and fertiliser which is indeed a good step in managing waste sustainably.” According to KMC, the electricity generated will be used for street lights and operation of the KMC office.

“Though we started on a small scale, this project will set an example,” said Rabin Man Shrestha, Chief of Environment Management Division at KMC and Director of the project. He further said that if the project is a success, they will use the technology broadly. “We have initiated plans to separate organic from non-organic waste, however, it will take time to bring awareness and change,” Shrestha said, adding that separating the waste is the main challenge they are facing at present.

According to him, the waste-to-energy project is a three-year project initiated in 2014 and will end in February, 2017. The KMC awarded the contract by joint venture to Raj and Riwaz, Nepalese Waste and Xeon companies to import machinery and establish a 14 kilowatt electricity plant. The equipment was imported from Pune, India. The project was 80 per cent funded by the EU and 20 per cent by the KMC. The total project cost is Rs 18.2 million.

Challenges ahead

Operating and sustaining the waste-to-energy plant is still a challenge as there is no mechanism for separating organic and non-organic waste from the source. Although the KMC has initiated the separation of waste from households by distributing green and red bins, it has not really materialised.

“Despite being a small project, waste-to-energy is one of the most feasible technologies for Nepal that produces bio-gas from organic waste and electricity from the gas,” said Environmentalist Bhusan Tuladhar. However, he said, “The main challenges that the KMC may come across is proper management, lack of technical expertise and waste homogeneity.” He further added, “There are many examples of failure for similar kinds of projects initiated by the government due to lack of technical expertise, skills and institutional obligations. Hence, the KMC should focus on developing expertise and practice on proper management.”

He stated that KMC can get organic waste sufficient for the pilot project, however, it will face challenges in case of operating bigger plants in the valley as there is no mechanism for separating waste from the source.

Tuladhar informed, “KMC collects such a big amount of waste that, if planned and segregated properly, will be sufficient to establish a bigger plant and produce electricity and gas that can be used for household or transportation.” He further said, “Organic waste and leachate is the main cause of water, air and land pollution and for many diseases. If the organic waste is used for generating electricity, the problem of managing waste will be solved significantly.”


Gyanendra Karki, Spokesperson, KMC. Photo: THT

“Waste that was the main source of pollution can be used for generating electricity, water, bio-gas and fertiliser which is indeed a good step in managing waste sustainably”

Gyanendra Karki, Spokesperson, KMC

Bhusan Tuladhar, Environmentalist. Photo: THT

“Despite being a small project, waste-to-energy is one of the most feasible technologies for Nepal that produces
bio-gas from organic waste and electricity from the gas”

Bhusan Tuladhar, Environmentalist

Ranjan Kumar Shrestha, Senior Programme Manager at EU. Photo: THT

“The project not only helps in managing waste but it will also mitigate the problem of energy crisis”

Ranjan Kumar Shrestha, Senior Programme Manager at EU


Lesson to learn

KMC is planning to replicate the project in other municipalities if the one-year pilot project succeeds. Furthermore, the project also tries to change attitude and behaviour change among the public. The metropolis has already started an initiative ‘waste to money’ and this project will lead with example if it succeeds.

“The project not only helps in managing waste but it will also mitigate the problem of energy crisis that the country goes through every year,” said Ranjan Kumar Shrestha, Senior Programme Manager at EU. He further said, “This initiative also helps changing attitude and behaviour of public on waste and develops the habit of organic and non-organic segregation.”

Citing that the project will lead with example, Shrestha said, “Government entities as well as the private sector can adopt this technology to make money out of waste. And the government should create a conducive environment for the private sector to enter the waste management sector.” He said, “The government should attract the private sector with tax breaks and other incentives to invest in the waste sector as the government alone will not be sufficient to manage it,” adding that learning from the project should be shared.

Stating that expertise development is required for the sustainability of the project, he said, “Many times government projects fail due to the lack of ability to retain experts in the project. For sustenance, the Solid Waste Management and Technical Centre should take charge of capacity building and conducting training, coordination, rapport building and management in integrated way to create awareness.”

The waste-to-energy plant will consume three tonnes of solid organic waste daily and produce 14 kilowatts of electricity.

Besides producing electricity, the plant will also produces 300 kilograms of bio-organic fertiliser, 300 cubic metre of biogas along with 1,500 litres of treated water.

 


A version of this article appears in print on November 13, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.


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