YEREVAN (ArmRadio)—The USAID Armenia Mission Director Jatinder Cheema, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia Dafina Gercheva, and Director of the Eco-Engineering company Harutyun Petrosyan on Thursday launched a joint plastic recycling program in Armenia. U.S. Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch, representatives of the UN, USAID, and the media attended the ceremony.
According to a 2006 study by the Japanese “Shimizu” Company, the formal system for solid municipal waste collection and disposal in Yerevan and in the regions does not include separate collection, sorting, or treatment of waste. With no pollution prevention and recycling systems in place, wastewater and pollutants are discharged directly into the rivers.
Per OSCE estimates, plastic containers, bottles and bags made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are one of the main pollutants in the country’s water sources. The volume of plastic packaging and bottles is growing rapidly in Armenia with increased consumption of water, soft drinks, dairy and other products packaged in PET containers. Currently about 5,000 tons of PET bottles per year are disposed of in Armenia.
In her remarks, Dr. Cheema stated that “This partnership effort, together with targeted municipalities and civil society, will be an important step toward establishing environmentally-friendly solid waste management systems in selected areas and boosting the collection and recycling of plastic containers to reduce pollution.” In addition to its ecological impact, she added, the project will help create jobs for local low-income populations and support the development of relevant micro- and small-size enterprises, which will contribute to the country’s economic growth.
“Development challenges are multi-sector and complex hence collaborative and partnership approaches to address those are required. By working together, we can make a difference,” said Dafina Gercheva at the signing ceremony. She added that waste reduction, recycling and reuse should be a part of an overall waste management policy of the authorities and, in particular, the local self-government bodies should consider this as one of the priority areas at local level.
At the initial phase, the project will be implemented in Yerevan and Gegharkunik, Lori, Armavir, Kotayk and Shirak regions, in areas close to water basins and with the highest concentration of PET waste. Based on results and lessons learned, the project will be expanded to target more areas in Armenia. The total budget of the project is $540,000 of which, USAID will pay 80 percent and UNDP 20 percent. The Eco-engineering company will invest $1.5 million contingent upon the collection of up to 3,000 tons of PET per year.