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Batch XI - Academic year 2022-2023
Supervisor: Prof. Alberto Lanzavecchia
Candidate: Giuditta Parini

Solid Waste Management in the Kathmandu Valley:

Challenges, initiatives and perspectives
  1. Study area
  2. Theoretical framework
  3. Research objectives
  4. Methodology
  5. Kathmandu Solid Waste scenario
  6. Formal sector - Informal sector
  7. IWWs vulnerabilities
  8. Alternatives
  9. Findings - Conclusions




View on Kathmandu's concrete structures

Study area

  • Nepal’s gateway to the Himalayas, Kathmandu is one of the fastest-growing cities in South Asia.
  • With the increase of population and urbanization, Solid Waste Management has become an urgent issue.
  • Kathmandu Valley is a scenario of complex environmental and social issues.

Waste Pickers

  • Waste pickers are informal workers who collect, sort and sell materials for recycling or reuse.
  • More than 20 million people around the world earn an income in this way.
  • About 60 per cent of all plastic recycled globally is collected by waste pickers. They are the backbone of the world’s recycling systems.

The informal recycling sector exists in most cities in developing countries. In SWM it consists of individuals, groups, and small businesses that perform peripheral collection and sale of recyclables and reusable materials.

A process of controlling solid waste (SWM) in its phases:
  • generation
  • collection
  • recycling
  • transport
  • processing
  • disposal

Informal sector

Urban Solid Waste Management

Theoretical framework

investigating whether formalizing this industry could result in a number of advantages.

3. Explore practical initiatives in the context of SWM in Kathmandu

2. Recognize the informal sector's role in SWM

1. Understand the state of SWM in Kathmandu

Research objectives

analysing data and current practices

through the Field work

Results: evaluate the feasibility of the alternatives and the possibility of a process of formalizing informal waste workers

Qualitative approach


  • purposive sample with probabilistic sample
  • convenience sample

Case-study approach

  • to deeply investigate real-life phenomena through extensive assessments of events, situations, and their interrelationships in a specific context.

Mixed sampling method

  • to get a comprehensive understanding.
  • to view the subject matter through the perspectives of the individuals directly engaged.

Semi-structured interviews

  • thematic guidelines to conduct the interviews
  • in-depth information from open-ended responses
  • two-way communication

of the total waste produces is recycled (2021)


Kathmandu Solid Waste scenario


are produced everyday by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (2021)


of respondents dispose of their mixed trash during pick-up, while 11% separate their waste and compost. (2020)


of solid waste is biodegradable (2021)

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Informal sector

Formal sector


Door-to-door collection


"We are garbage workers and people think we are not so clean. Sometimes on public transportation they tell me not to sit next to them." - Rubina L., women informal waste worker at Sasaja Cooperative, 32 years old.

IWWs vulnerabilities

Health vulnerabilities:
  • workplace health hazards
  • any health insurance
  • vulnerablity to mental health diseases

Occupational vulnerabilities:
  • low pay
  • limited negotiation skills
  • dangerous working conditions
  • lack of formal employment contracts
  • no workplace sanitation

Economic vulnerabilities:
  • limited access to financial services
  • informal financial channels and risky practices
  • Lack of social protection measures

Social and political vulnerabilities:
  • discrimination and stigma lead them to social isolation



company giving segregation and collection services, trainings and management of e-waste


an innovative social organization. Their efforts involve developing effective waste management systems, promoting recycling consultancy and services

Paramva Biotech

company focused on organic waste and vermicomposting

SASAJA Cooperative

non-governamental, non-profit organization with a focus on the rights of IWWs, providing them with social and health insurance

  • Lack of cooperation between actors
  • Lack of support and collaboration from the Municipality of Kathmandu
  • Need for sustained efforts and systematic implementations of projects
  • SWM projects and the formalization of the informal sector hold the potential to reshape the waste management landscape of Kathmandu.



  • Inadequacy of the solid waste management system in Kathmandu
  • Innovative alternatives and projects can make a substantial difference in enhancing the current waste management scenario
  • WWs vulnerablities need to be recognized and solved
  • Short term vs Long term results of the PRISM Project at the Sasaja Cooperative

Thank you

  • indefinite number of private companies
  • not always fixed days
  • once collected, rubbish is thrown all together
  • they operate various collection checkpoints along rivers or roadsides
  • situated in the Kakani rural municipality
  • built in 2005 for short-term disposal of waste generated in Kathmandu and Lalitpur
  • urban waste in The Valley and Banepa is dumped in Sisdol
  • approximately 1,200 tonnes of urban waste are dumped there daily
  • discharge of leachate into the Kolpu river
Sisdol landfill site

Kathmandu's 2023 population is now estimated at 1,571,010. In 1950, the population of Kathmandu was 104,479.

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  • MSW generation of Kathmandu was found to be 1006 t/d on average till 2035 with an average per capita/d waste generation of 0.54 kg.
  • The MSW generation of Kathmandu was 766 t in 2021 and is forecast to reach 1259 t/d by 2035. The MSW generation of KMC is predicted to increase by 64% in the next 15 years.