The present waste management system in Leh is designed for collection, partial separation and disposal of waste from the Main Market area in the city. A long-term approach to waste management in Leh, however, would require an upgrade to include, first and foremost, sensitisation and training for avoiding waste generation and wastage, and repurposing and recycling with a view to conserve resources.
Information on waste in Leh is lacking. Data on municipal solid waste has never been collected in the city, hence, no estimates exist of the quantity and nature of waste produced as well as of the potential for utilising the waste. An assessment and feedback of the performance of the municipal solid waste management system has also not been conducted, leaving it to assumptions whether the system is efficient for the city, what challenges it faces and how people perceive it.
Several gaps in the system of municipal solid waste management in Leh can be identified.
Municipal waste collection trucks operate on very few routes leaving many households, institutions, shops and restaurants to deal with their own waste.
A lot of the communal waste is dumped in abandoned sites or river bodies without pre-treatment or primary waste separation.
Burning waste in backyards is extremely common and widely accepted especially since the municipal waste collection system is not accessible to all localities.
Participation of residents (waste generators) in waste management is negligible making waste management largely the job of the municipality.
Community education and training for reducing and eliminating waste is not integrated into the waste management system.
Repurposing and recycling of waste for conserving resources and in accordance with circular economy goals is not integrated into the waste management system.
Waste is not recognised as a material resource with potential to be socially and economically beneficial for locals.
A roadmap for long-term waste management - where we currently are and where would we like to reach, say in the next 5 years - does not exist.