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Participants learn reusing waste paper and clothes for business at the stakeholders’ meeting for sustainable smart city yesterday in Thimphu

Paper and textile recycling to empower women’s livelihood

Shortage of recyclable waste in the country was one of the issues raised during a stakeholder meeting for sustainable smart city at the RENEW (Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women) conference hall yesterday.

The shortage, according to stakeholders, is because people are not aware of where to dump their waste and not because of the shortage of waste in the country.

YDF’s project manager, Jigme Thinley, said the YDF’s egg tray manufacturing unit in Bjemina doesn’t get enough waste papers and cardboards to make the trays. “It is not because there is a shortage of paper waste in the country,” he said. “The collectors prefer to sell it at a higher price across the border.”

Clean Bhutan’s executive director, Nedup Tshering, said he had placed donation boxes in the city for people to throw plastics like milk powder packets. Some boxes are still found empty while a box contained a Nu 50 note. “Which means people are not reading what is written on the boxes,” he said.

The stakeholders felt there is a need to have containers or places to dump other wastes such as clothes and glasses.

The meeting on integrated solid waste management for sustainable smart city and gender empowerment was organised together by the South Asian Forum for Environment (SAFE), a non-profit civil society organisation from India and RENEW.

Indo-Bhutan Fund Projects support the intervention that attempts to develop a sustainable livelihood paradigm for the common women in Bhutan by transforming waste paper and fibre to a climate adaptive microenterprise.

SAFE director, Amrita Chatterjee, said that largely common women are involved only in non-rewarding household works and childcare.

“Women have been found migrating from villages in search of livelihood, who often fall victims to gender parity and domestic violence,” she said.

Poverty and missing identity stop their children from going to school, she added. “Waste recycling is the easiest option for non-skilled and illiterate women,” Amrita Chatterjee said. “What you throw in the landfill has the potential to create a livelihood.”

RENEW’s executive director, Tandin Wangmo, said the workshop is aimed at capacity building of women on recycling and re-use of paper, textile and organic waste to reduce burden on the landfill.

Besides carrying out awareness campaign at the community level on waste recycling, RENEW will select beneficiaries for training and capacity building, provide infrastructural support for training and capacity building and local market linkage for recycled micro utility products. Amrita Chatterjee said that each month, beneficiaries would target to recycle 1,000kgs of waste paper and 500MT (metric tonnes) of textile waste that is expected to reduce about 15 to 20MT of waste going to the landfill.

Dechen Tshomo

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