Armenia is not alone, as other countries in the region face difficult challenges in waste management.
According to Andrea Baggioli, International Aid and Cooperation Officer at the EU Delegation to Armenia, although separation of waste is neither police nor practice in Armenia, there are around 30 communities in the country where residents have been pioneering the separation and storage of plastic bottles for several years now. More and more communities throughout Armenia have shown a desire to start separating plastic.
In the town of Kapan, in Syunik Province in the southeast of the country, plastic waste will not only be sorted, but prepared for recycling and re-use in the construction sector. This will become possible thanks to the new ‘Turning environmental challenges into opportunities: Introducing building materials from plastic waste’ project, co-financed by the EU and the country’s government. According to its managers, we won’t have to wait long to see the results of the recycling.
“With this project, for the first time in Armenia, a startup recycling facility is going to be established in Kapan, Syunik Province, which will process plastic waste into materials after passing [through] several technological processes and mixing with sand on a production line. In order to supply the startup with enough plastic waste, the project will create infrastructure for its separation and collection all the way down from Yeghegnadzor to Meghri, involving nine communities of Vayots Dzor and Syunik.” Baggioli says
The two-year project’s budget is around €750,000, of which €510,000 has been provided by the European Union. The remaining 25% is funded by the Armenian government, the Urban Foundation for Sustainable Development (UFSD) and the municipality of Kapan. According to Armine Tukhikyan, UFSD Programme Director, the project aims to make management of household waste more productive, starting with plastic waste as a first step. Tukhikyan says they have launched investment in a model for household plastic waste separation in around 30 communities in Armenia, and there are already many communities where plastic waste is sorted, collected, stored and pressed to shrink its volume. “With this project, for the first time in Armenia we’ll try to recycle waste stored in the plant and obtain building materials.” “For the time being, we plan to obtain six types of building materials, but it’s a method that’s been adopted to obtain hundreds of materials worldwide,” Tukhikyan adds. “Works on the installation of the plant will be over in two months, after which the supplier is urged to launch training for new employees to be recruited to the plant. They’ll start to produce building material and [then] we’ll have a product in September-October.” According to Tukhikyan, due to its technical characteristics, the plastic product will surpass the quality of equivalent products made by sand and cement.