Ararat, Armenia – Dafina Gercheva, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia, and Dr. Jatinder Cheema, USAID/Armenia Mission Director, visited the town of Ararat on April 20 to tour the waste collecting and recycling activities of USAID-UNDP plastic recycling program, which recently installed 60 plastic waste bins in the town. Ms. Gercheva and Dr. Cheema also launched the local public awareness campaign that featured open lessons on environmental protection in two central schools of Ararat.
In order to address Armenia’s environmental challenges, USAID and UNDP launched a joint initiative in March 2011 – the Collection and Reuse of Plastic Refuse (CRPR) project – to improve the quality of potable water sources in Armenia through the the collection and recycling of plastic containers. The program also sought to spur private sector investment in the recycling of plastic waste. As of December 2011, a total of 600 special bins were installed in Vanadzor, Hrazdan, Alaverdi, Sevan, Tsakhkadzor, Ararat, Charentsavan, and Dilijan, resulting in the recycling of nearly 30 tons of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste. The project will install additional 300 bins in the towns of Ararat, Artashat, Ashtarak, Ejmiatsin and Armavir by June 2012.
“One of the main objectives of this initiative is to create stimulating conditions for Armenian private sector to invest in high level recycling of PET waste. Proper management and recycling of this toxic material is not only urgent from the environmental point of view, but it also carries an essential potential for delivering currently unrealized economic benefits,” said Dafina Gercheva, UN RC/UNDP Resident Representative.
During the initial phase of the project, UNDP provided special bins for PET waste, balers, and compactors in the target communities for separation of PET bottles and relevant plastic products immediately at the first stage of the waste collection cycle. The project then helped design and implement partnerships between the local authorities responsible for solid waste management and private companies with capacities to buy and recycle the PET waste. Intensive public awareness campaign in the project areas was an important component to inform the general population on the importance of separating the PET waste into the special bins.
“Armenia has begun to develop new projects and strategies to foster industrial growth, national competitiveness, and to address environmental concerns with particular attention to municipal solid waste. It is time when urgent action for improvement and modernization is required to ensure sustainable and eco-friendly performance in the future. This project will have direct impact on raising awareness of the need to reduce pollution, will improve public health, and will engage local communities in ensuring a cleaner and less polluted environment,” Dr. Cheema said.
Based on the results and proved interest and support of the authorities and community residents, the project plans to expand to other towns of Armenia, including Yerevan, where around 3,000 tons PET waste is still thrown out to landfills each year.