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UNDP and Partners to Increase Recycling in Armenia

Summary

By: Sevak Amalyan, UNDP Armenia

According to estimates, plastic containers, bottles and bags are one of the main pollutants of water sources in Armenia. The volumes of plastic packaging and bottles are growing rapidly with increasing consumption of water, soft drinks, cooking oils, dairy and other products delivered in such bottles and other forms of packaging. Currently about 5,000 tons of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles per year are disposed of in Armenia and, with no pollution prevention and recycling systems in place, these pollutants are discharged directly into the rivers.

To address this challenge, a new public-private partnership project was initiated by UNDP and USAID with Eco-Engineering Company, one of the first private recycling initiatives in Armenia, with the purpose to improve solid waste management in the country. The partnership will support the implementation of an efficient and economically viable PET recycling program in Armenia and, in the long-term, improve access to clean, safe and reliable water. The project aims to reach the level of 70 percent collection of PET in Armenia, or 3,500 tons of PET per year.

While the overall objective of this project is to reduce pollution by supporting development of PET management system in Armenia from collection to recycling, the project will also create the conditions for the private sector to invest in the high value-add recycling business. These goals will be achieved through simultaneous implementation of the following synchronized project components:

Creation of adequate conditions and technical/infrastructural capacities in the project areas for differentiated treatment of waste, namely for separation of PET bottles and relevant plastic products immediately at the first stage of the waste collection cycle. Design and put into operation a model for public private partnership for collecting and processing of the PET bottles from the first stage of waste collection cycle. Support the selected private companies in establishing a high profile and higher-value added recycling of PET, providing technical and high level advisory/expert services. Organize an effective public awareness campaign and support public participation in PET collection programs, including those along water sources and protected areas.

The above mentioned public awareness campaign will include activities such as TV and radio programs, rallies by volunteers and dissemination of information. Further development of the project will take place through intensive discussions with stakeholder, beneficiaries and experts.

As the implementing partner, UNDP is fully responsible for management and implementation of the project. Among other tasks, UNDP will invest up to US$90,000 for project implementation, organizing the procurement and handover of special recycling bins to the municipalities, basin authorities, national parks authorities and provide technical support.

Acting as the main donor of the project, USAID granted US$450,000 to UNDP for implementing the project. A private partner, Eco-Engineering, will sign contracts with small processing companies and buy the whole volume of the collected/processed PET supplied at a fixed price, provide technical/advisory support to the processing companies for improving the quality of supplied PET and provide up to US$1.5 million (conditional upon collecting 3,5000t. of PET) for the establishment of large scale recycling/production facilities.

Specifically the following results are expected:

Improved recycling operations through installation of upgraded equipment and implementation of innovative technology; Improved collection system resulting in increased volume (3500 tons/year) and reduced transportation costs; Reduced pollution of targeted water sources and improved watershed management practices in protected areas; Increased level of public awareness and participation in pollution reduction and clean-up campaigns; Strengthened waste collection functions of communities, municipalities and water basin organizations Creation of additional income generating opportunities for the local low-income population in the project areas. Creation of additional jobs (up to 100 according to estimates).

For more information, please contact Mr. Sevak Amalyan, Project Coordinator, UN Global Compact Project, UNDP Armenia.