Issue 4, 2018. August-September

   

REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE: INNOVATIVE WAYS LOCAL BUSINESSES ARE HELPING THE ENVIRONMENT

Eco-friendly building material, parks, investing in local incinerators - companies in Georgia are finding ways to help the environment every day.

A 21st century version of the old adage 'nothing is certain in life but death and taxes' would definitely include garbage: today, there is nothing certain in life but death, taxes and the eternal question of where to put all the garbage.

Starting in 2019, municipalities across Georgia will have to start recycling. The Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN) has been working with local governments in Tbilisi and three Georgian regions - Kakheti, Adjara and Shida Kartli - to help them prepare as part of the USAID-funded Waste Management Technology in Regions program.

A crucial part of the program has been to create waste management plans, and to raise awareness about the need to reduce, reuse and recycle.

"These waste management plans are very important because they are prioritizing the issues and recycling," Nana Janashia, the executive director of CENN, told Investor.ge.

Janashia noted that raising awareness and financing are "the two most important areas for recycling."

"Our strategy is to develop and push the laws, like strategies, and also to push from the ground, for people to demand recycling," she said. CENN's efforts have already made an impact: there are eight recycling locations for paper, glass, plastic and aluminum waste in Tbilisi: The French School of Caucasus, Public School #54, Green School, Goodwill Digomi Branch, GTC Carrefour, Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (Ortachala), Hotel Old Maidan and East Point.

Waste recycling companies have received and recycled 7540.5 tons of municipal waste (paper, aluminum, glass, plastic).

A Role for Business

CENN is also partnering with local businesses and organizations around the country to pick up trash and reduce liter as part of its Keep Georgia Beautiful Campaign (http://environment.cenn.org/join-us-keep-georgia-beautiful/).

Local businesses, including several AmCham Georgia members, are participating.

The Batumi Hilton, for example, has partnered with CENN to recycle as part of the Hilton hotels' Travel With Purpose campaign.

The hotel chain has committed to cut its environmental footprint in half by 2030. To meet that goal, hotels across the chain are engaged in a wide-range of activities. At the Batumi Hilton, they are reducing the use of plastic bottles in every operation departments to minimum. There is also an effort to end the use of disposable straws.

Other hotels in Georgia are also working to reduce consumption and increase recycling. For example, Accor hotels launched a sustainability scheme called 'Planet 21' in 2010, setting up sustainability targets for 2021.

At Mercure Tbilisi Old Town, that translates to specific recycling programs as well as food waste reduction and efforts to reduce water waste and energy consumption, according to the hotel's SD Quality & Project Manager, Tamuna Chkhikvadze.

BP Georgia is working on innovative ways to deal with its waste, as well.

All non-hazardous waste from BP's sites are collected at a waste processing and recycling center; the waste is segregated, compacted and routed to the appropriate facility.

"We have saved more than $600,000 annually and significantly reduced environmental impact by using seven local recycling companies, step-by-step implementation and development of 12 minimization/reusing options of waste treatments," BP told Investor.ge.

In addition, in 2015, BP Georgia started usage of an EU/UK compliant hazardous waste incinerator. BP and its partners have also supported total 34 projects to support energy efficiency in Georgia. McDonald's Georgia is investing in energy efficiency by using eco-friendly and efficient building materials on its restaurants in Georgia. The restaurant chain is also planting trees and working to create a clean environment for residents living near its facilities, Nikoloz Darbaiseli, McDonald's Georgia Development Manager, told Investor.ge.

Investing in the Future

HeidelbergCement Georgia is building a modern dry line cement plant in Kaspi municipality as part of its efforts to provide clean building materials, according to the company's environmental manager, Giorgi Chaladze.

The new plant will use less water than the old, wet process plants, he noted.

"The plant will be equipped with continuous emission monitoring system - for measuring dust, also nitrogen, sulfur and carbon oxide emissions...The new system will help company to reduce emissions and increase efficiency of the whole production cycle," Chaladze said.

"The dry line project provides opportunity for using alternative fuel, for example municipal waste or used tires, which can result in a better waste management and will reduce waste accumulation in Georgia," he added.

ENVIROSERVE Caucasus has made a business of collecting and recycling e-waste, including old computers, phones, printers. Enviroserve has been working with governments and communities in many countries for over 20 years to find solutions for e-waste related issues.

In Georgia, ENVIROSERVE Caucasus collects e-waste, sorts it and ships it to the company's facilities in the UAE. "As the volume grows, we will invest and expand with further facilities in the recycling chain," David Barker, the director of ENVIROSERVE Caucasus, told Investor.ge.