Case study – Innovative Waste Management in Thailand

Case study – Innovative Waste Management in Thailand


In the city of Nonthaburi, close to Thailand’s capital of Bangkok, coordinated efforts to tackle the problem of solid waste management both through promoting waste reduction and through turning organic waste into compost has shown some impressive results.

Like many cities in Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia, Nonthaburi was struggling to cope with the disposal of ever increasing amounts of solid waste, leaving the municipalities landfill site overloaded and the city streets dirty and full of rubbish. It was not possible to expand the existing landfill site or find new sites, due to restrictions on available land; in addition, there was concern about health implications for the population living close to landfill sites and the environmental problems arising from unregulated rubbish disposal. 

In the early 2010s, it was therefore decided to tackle that problem and a “Municipal Development Committee”, consisting of representative from the municipality, municipal staff and community leaders, was formed by the mayor to develop and monitor new waste management strategies.

Two main strategies emerged: First, the promotion of solid waste reduction at source, particularly at households, schools, markets and offices to decrease the volume of solid waste even before the disposal stage – recycling was encouraged. Secondly, the composting of organic waste to turn it into fertiliser. This was made possible by setting up separate bins for collecting organic waste in markets and some restaurants as well as selected schools and community centres. The organic waste collected is taken to a composting plant and turned into enriched compost that is sold to farmers and gardeners.

While the scheme has started well and is being appreciated by the local population, there are some challenges to the implementation of these two strategies. At first, there was some resistance to waste segregation and management at source; people were not keen on the additional effort required and it took some time before waste segregation was accepted. Composting was also more difficult in the rainy season and there were some technical difficulties to be solved.

However, the benefits that have already arisen for the population of Nonthaburi far outweigh these initial difficulties. Waste collection has become cheaper for the municipality, since the total volume of waste has been reduced and the municipality is making money from selling the enriched compost. Households also pay a fee for waste collection, although these fees do not cover the entire costs. There is also a social advantage, since the joint effort of various stakeholders to participate in recycling and waste reduction increases the sense of community. Finally, these new strategies benefit the environment – rivers have become less polluted, there is less waste in public areas and on the streets and people enjoy their cleaner and greener city.

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