Issue 3, 2018. June-July

   

GEORGIA PLANS RECYCLING PROGRAMS TO TACKLE GROWING WASTE

Georgia suffers a myriad of problems dealing with waste but new deadlines on EU-mandated reforms could boost the level of recycling in the country and help create new business opportunities in waste management.

Lika Jorjoliani

Georgia's waste problem is obvious to even the most casual observers: too much trash, not enough recycling and far, far too few trash cans.

But a new timeline to make EU-mandated changes is set to change that.

Starting in 2019, manufacturers and importers will be legally obligated to collect and process waste connected with their products under the Extended Producers' Responsibility regulation.

Country-wide Recycling by 2025

The new rules, which will go into effect in December 2019-11 months later than initially planned-call for all municipalities to start recycling waste, Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN) Executive Director, Nana Janashia, told Investor.ge.

"Since 2014, we have been working on the project "Waste Management Technology in the Regions" in Georgia . . . According to the Association Agreement concluded between Georgia and EU, each self-governing body and municipality was obliged to develop a plan of management of municipal waste before the end of 2017," she said.

The current deadline calls for a nation-wide recycling system to be in place by 2025, according to Georgia's 2015 Code on Waste.

"We have developed a plan for 19 municipalities, and additionally, with the support of foreign experts, our organization is assisting the Tbilisi Mayor's Office in developing a master plan on waste management. Currently, there are not enough recycling plants and, if we look at the country as a whole, there are only 15 waste recycling plants, among which four plants are recycling paper," Janashia said.

One major challenge, she said, is the lack of modern recycling equipment in Georgia. "Existing equipment is outdated and new equipment needs to be purchased. Another problem is obtaining secondary raw material for production," she said.

Without modern equipment and quality raw material, Georgian recycling companies are not able to produce high-quality goods. "Mainly, they produce carton board and toilet paper. In the nearest future, we will announce a grant competition for companies dealing with the recycling of solid waste to receive grants to procure equipment. The winner will take a part in a co-financing project in the amount of 15-20 percent [of the cost of equipment]. Grants will be worth up to one million lari," Janashia added.

Recycling Electronic Goods

The new regulations also call for businesses to recycle electronic goods and other types of waste within the framework of Extended Producers' Responsibility.

In addition to Georgia's legal obligation to start recycling electronic goods, there is also concern about the growing quantity of waste from telephones and other devices.

The Head of the Waste Management Division of the Ministry of Environmental Protection of Georgia, Alverd Chankseliani, told Investor.ge that the expanded obligations for companies are a "key component of the waste management system."

"The process has already started, and we already have a legislative base and a national waste management strategy and action plan . . . The registration of collectors of different types of waste (electronic and metal) started on January 1 of the current year. Now the Ministry is planning to create a database of collectors and the category of waste they are dealing with," he said.

Based on the national plan, companies were supposed to start recycling waste at the beginning of 2019, but that deadline has been pushed back to later in the year.

"We are planning to process 20 percent of collected waste in 2020, the types of waste defined [by the law]. We now have to work a great deal in order to successfully implement this plan. We have to conduct meetings with companies and representatives of different structures to develop normative acts to regulate this activity. In addition to electric and electronic equipment, the types of waste [for recycling] include batteries, car batteries, packaging materials, oils and tires," Chankseliani said.

He added that this reform is completely new for Georgia and, in addition to developing necessary laws, there is also a need to increase awareness and bolster the capabilities of state agencies and the private sector.

Tariff Concerns

Businesses have expressed concern, however, about the cost of recycling the waste.

Vera Tabidze, the financial manager of ACC Distribution, told Investor.ge that there are currently no laws regulating the recycling of electronic waste in Georgia and no companies in the country provide that service.

"We import computer and household equipment and 150 different brands. Today, no company in Georgia deals with the processing of electronic wastes. There is not any legislation base supporting the processing and production from secondary raw material. We have very high taxes, and it is not beneficial to deal with recycling. For example, if we supply waste from electric and electronic goods, we will be charged tax for the sale of new goods. Now, we transport waste to the landfill and utilize it on-site," she said.

Director of the Solid Waste Company of Georgia Giorgi Shukhoshvili agreed that the tariffs are too low to cover the cost of disposing of or recycling waste.

"Today, the tariff for waste removal is symbolic and doesn't cover expenditures. Currently the tariff is 3 lari in the municipalities, but local governments are able to establish this tariff themselves, and the average tariff on waste removal in the regions is 50 tetri. Surely this is not enough to cover even the expenditures for waste removal, let alone disposing of the waste in landfills," he said.

Janashia said CENN specialists are working on the tariff issue.

"Our specialists have developed a methodology to calculate the tariff for waste management, as the current tariff doesn't cover the whole cost of waste management, including collection and disposal. Based on our methodology, the tariff must be reviewed annually, and it will depend upon definite parameters that are changeable, including the rate of inflation, the cost of fuel and others," she said.

"We are working on such a methodology and [plan] submit it to the government. We have also calculated a real tariff for waste collection and for the entire process," Janashia added.

CENN, with the support of USAID, has created the Georgian Waste Management Association to help businesses "establish and develop recycling methods, help with waste separation and the manufacturing of products using recycled goods," she said. The Association is also working to create a business-friendly environment in the waste-management field.

Janashia added that CENN is already helping companies adapt to the new legal requirements.

"We already have companies that deal with the separated collection of waste in Tbilisi and Batumi. They can collect and deliver already pre-sorted materials to recycling companies: plastic, glass, paper and aluminum. We have opened eight sites in Tbilisi where people can bring sorted waste for further recycling . . . the company Supta Samkaro collects and delivers the waste to the companies, and exports any remaining waste to Turkey," she said.

WHERE TO RECYCLE IN TBILISI?

The Waste Management Technology in the Regions program has created several recycling points in Tbilisi, including:

- Dighomi Goodwill Hypermarket

- Carrefour Market at the GTC center on Vekua Street

- Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, 6 Dimitry Gulia St, Tbilisi 0114, Georgia

- Old Meidan Hotel, 9/11 Samghebro St, Tbilisi 0105, Georgia

- East Point Mall, 2 Aleksandre Tvalchrelidze St, Tbilisi 0182, Georgia

- Fabrika Hostel Tbilisi, 8 Egnate Ninoshvili St, Tbilisi 0102, Georgia