Clean Bhutan was established on February 6, 2014. There was a need to advocate and sensitise Bhutanese citizens on managing waste and behavioural habits.
Cleaning rivers, trek routes and highways, and injecting the idea of zero waste in the communities, villages and town are the core focus areas of Clean Bhutan.
Clean Bhutan was registered as Civil Society Organisation (CSO) with the Civil Society Organization Authority on November 11, 2014.
Clean Bhutan’s executive director, Nedup Tshering, said that Bhutan is beginning to experience rapid socioeconomic development and waste is becoming a major concern.
“Clean Bhutan’s responsibility is to inform the Bhutanese people about the negative impacts of waste on the environment and human health through advocacy programmes and to develop mechanisms on how to manage the waste,” he said.
Clean Bhutan has worked with more than 6,819 volunteers and conducted over 480 cleaning campaigns across the country. It currently has 3,689 registered members across the country.
Nine officers with the help of members and volunteers man the entire office. Clean Bhutan has outreach offices in Mongar, Trashigang and Trashiyangtse.
“We have student coordinators in Paro College of Education, Samtse College of Education, College of Science and Technology in Phuentsholing and Sherubtse College in Trashigang,” Nedup Tshering said.
Instead of focusing on awareness-creating with students, Clean Bhutan focuses on educating trainee teachers on waste management so that when they start teaching children in schools across the country, they also educate the children on waste management and in reducing generation of waste, said Nedup Tshering.
Clean Bhutan has been creating awareness and teaching the trainees about waste management for the last two years.
“Some of the trainees are now employed as teachers in the remotest schools in the country and they teach their students how to manage waste,” Nedup Tshering said. “By educating the teachers on waste management, they do their bit to educate the future of the nation about waste management. That way, our reach is higher. This is an achievement.”
Nedup Tshering said that Clean Bhutan’s biggest achievement is being blessed by His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo and also receiving the National Order of Merit (Gold) along with 22 other CSOs in the country from His Majesty The King on the national day last year.
Under Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen’s blessings and guidance, Clean Bhutan will mainly focus on Thimphu and Paro to advocate through ‘Clean & Beautiful’ theme, Nedup Tshering said.
Earlier this year, Clean Bhutan in coordination with the dzongkhag officials, planted 200 peach trees in Trashiyangtse while promoting zero waste in the dzongkhag through community partnership.
Nedup Tshering said that when a place is clean and beautiful, people hesitate to throw garbage. “This is the notion behind the ‘Clean and Beautiful’ theme.”
Another achievement of the CSO is that many Lhakhangs are discouraging devotees from bringing packaged tshogs, which means people now understand how to manage waste.
A two-year project (July 2015 to June 2017) called Advocating Behavioral change – Manage Our Own Waste is being implemented in Trashigang and Mongar. The project worth Nu 6.8M (million) is funded by Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation (BTF).
An eighteen-month project called Waste Management System for Trashiyangtse Community was also implemented from December 2016. Small Grant Project of UNDP supported the project worth Nu 2.5M.
Clean Bhutan is also working on a project called WOW (Wealth out of Waste) women association. The project focuses on unemployed women in Thimphu.
Any woman living in Thimphu can be member of WOW women association. Clean Bhutan will provide skills training to the women, like weaving bags and mats out of waste that cannot be recycled.
“We wash the material and disinfect it before processing to weave,” he said. “We also have a quality control for our products.”
Nedup Tshering said that the programme is expected to reduce plastic waste from going to landfill and also develop skills of urban women for self-employment to generate additional income.
“Plastic waste is inevitable so why not take the opportunity for self employment by generating income by the skilled weavers without any investment,” he said.
The association has nine women who will train other members of the association to weave baskets and mats, among others.
Clean Bhutan has placed some 100 donation boxes across the country for plastic where people can dump plastic bags.
“We are in the process of designing the products. By the end of this month we will be full fledged with the project and the products will be diversified,” said Nedup Tshering. “The Zero Waste Plan will be an ambitious one with realistic sustainable objectives by promoting membership drive to sustain the office and also change the mindset of every individual by encouraging them to be a member of Clean Bhutan.”
Zero Waste Bhutan by 2030
To change the mindset of every Bhutanese to practice sustainable consumption lifestyle by using available resources most efficiently
Advocate Behavioral Change (ABC) on sustainable consumption lifestyle and prevent Bhutan from becoming a consumerist society.
Changing the mindset of all citizens to practice the 3R with Responsibility.
Work with local government, municipality authorities and communities to manage waste more efficiently.
Work in close colaborationwith local governments, communities and individuals
Educate students – that managing waste is not the best solution instead avoid being a consumerist society
Innovative business models to reduce, recycle and reuse in small communities as part of poverty alleviation
With support from Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation and Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD)