Electronic waste and informal recycling in Kathmandu, Nepal: challenges and opportunities

Keshav Parajuly*, Khim B. Thapa, Ciprian Cimpan, Henrik Wenzel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In the absence of relevant policies and supporting infrastructure, many developing countries are struggling to establish a resource-oriented waste management system. In countries like Nepal, where informal recycling practices are prevalent, the lack of understanding of the existing system hinders any advancement in this sector. We characterize the informal recycling chain in Kathmandu, where a workforce of more than 10,000 people handles the recyclable items in various waste streams, including electronic waste (e-waste). A field study, supported by key informant interviews, questionnaire surveys, and site observations was conducted to understand the local recycling sector, the lifecycle of electronic products, and the relevant stakeholders. E-waste is found to be an integral part of the existing solid waste management chain and, therefore, needs to be addressed collectively. We identify the challenges and opportunities towards building a sustainable system for managing e-waste, and offer propositions for a resource-oriented waste management system. This study can serve as a baseline for future research on informal waste recycling, e-waste in particular, in Nepal and similar developing economies that have not attracted a lot of attention until now.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Material Cycles and Waste Management
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)656–666
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Developing country
  • E-waste
  • Electronic waste
  • Informal sector
  • Nepal


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