Plastic waste recycling is virtually non-existent in Armenia. The project “Turning Environmental Challenges into Opportunities: Introducing construction materials from plastic waste” funded by the European Union and implemented by the Urban Foundation provides opportunity to collect plastic waste in 10 selected cities in the two southern regions of Armenia and turn it into sand-polymeric pavement or tile blocks in a workshop founded by the project.
Facts and Figures
Implementing organisation in Armenia: Urban Foundation
CRIS number: 381812
Duration: 2.5 years | December 2016 – June 2019
Location: Regions of Syunik and Vayots Dzor | Republic of Armenia
• Clean cities of the Syunik and Vayots Dzor from plastic trash
• Increase environment consciousness of the local communities
• Help local communicates in finding practical solutions for plastic waste recycling
• Support production of affordable and endurable construction materials from recycled plastic in the local communities
• Have plastic waste bins in 10 cities of Syunik and Vayots Dzor regions placed
• Installed plastic pressing machines in the selected towns to make collected plastic more transportable
• Kick off a plastic recycling workshop in the Kapan to produce sand-polymeric blocks for construction
• Educate local population on waste sorting and need of collecting plastic waste
“As per the technology plastic is mixed into the sand while the former being much lighter than the cement, successfully substitutes it as gluing material. Plastic is also stronger and enduring to elements compared to the concrete. “Our market research showed that polymeric sand blocks are more cost-efficient than the traditional concrete ones. In our technology, the polymeric sand will consist of 75 percent sand, 24 percent plastic material and 1 percent coloring agent which is used to give a specific color to the final product. The material which we get after processing is poured into molds in the needed shape,” Urban Foundation project coordinator Samvel Nazaryan elaborates. The project is implemented in nine cities of the Syunik and Vayots Dzor regions, Sisian, Kapan, Goris, Meghri Agarak, Kajaran, Yeghegnadzor, Vayk, and Jermuk, while the foundation has a long history of cooperation with Kapan. Currently, the project is in the phase of its implementation while the workshop in Kapan is about to kick off in spring 2019. They arranged for the delivering of bins for plastic trash in all of the nine communities. The public utility companies in each of those towns are provided with one pressing machine which condenses the plastic bottles almost tenfold. Nine additional jobs were created as per the project requirements to operate the pressing machines; We can speak of a certain social by-impact of the project if we consider that twenty more jobs were created thanks to the planned workshop in Kapan.
Owner of the Goris-based “Mirhav” hotel, Shahen, who considers pollution of the city and its environments with plastic a calamity, also shares his story of previous attempts and failures.
“Years ago I wanted to assist somehow recycling plastic waste, but I didn’t succeed. I wanted to convince plastic recycling factories in Yerevan to place plastic waste bins in Goris, but they said they said the quantity is too little and it won’t be cost-effective. So I try to do something on my own, but then I realised there are too many organizational problems that I won’t be able to manage them,” Shahen says.
Then his face shines with excitement as he speaks on the EU-financed project implemented by the Urban Foundation.
“I have lots of plastic waste, like my old and broken benches from plastic, for instance, collected and stored, which I don’t want to dump. Thank god Samvel has reached out to me and said they would collect it and recycle. I have a storage full of empty plastic bottles collected since long, and of course, I’ll give all of them for recycling,” Shahen says.
Recycling bottles and other plastic waste is important. However, a key to the success of the project is the cooperation with the local populace.
“If the population of the communities doesn’t cooperate and learn to sort waste, we will fail in our mission,” Samvel says and highlights activities so far done.
Educational materials have been designed, a course on the environment with particular stress on plastic waste separation and an introduction into the global best practice was introduced in public schools, social ad banners calling for sorting waste were installed, and other activities were implemented within the scope of the project.
“Plastic waste bins are visual indicators to the success. If initially lots of different waste was being dumped into them, currently we find almost exclusively plastic inside them, and they and these get filled quickly.”
The projects implemented in the towns of the two Armenian regions will most probably continue.
We hope the day when we go out for a walk long instead of coming across with heaps of plastic waste; we’ll enjoy the sight the streets paved with clean, endurable and colored plastic blocks and roof tiles made of plastic waste.