Solid Waste Management: Cleaner, Safer, Greener!
Azerbaijan inherited deficient waste management system from the former Soviet Union. Due to the collapsed management system and chaotic dumping, the waste collection and processing was in disarray. There was no reliable information on SWM situation in the country: basic data on waste generation rates and quantities, waste collection efficiency, characteristics and composition was virtually non-existent. Without such information, reliable, or realistic, planning for improvement of services could not be expected.
In June 2009, UNDP started assisting the Government of Azerbaijan to improve the national solid waste management system. UNDP brought in the international best practices from such countries as the Czech Republic, which ten years ago had SWM problems similar to those facing Azerbaijan today and is now considered as example of excellence.
- First-ever studies were conducted on per capita waste generation capacity in Baku, Ismayilly, and Sheki. The research findings and recommendations were shared with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Economic Development to feed the analysis of current SWM practices and the drafting of new SWM policies.
- The Data-bank was established to store data on quantity and content of solid wastes in the country. These accomplishments are considered as valuable instruments for gauging the implementation of current SWM policies.
- Project assisted developing the National Strategy on reduction, recycling and reuse (RRR) of the solid wastes.
- Revisions and amendments were proposed to the Cabinet of Ministers’ regulatory documents on incineration, land-filling, and sanitary norms for solid waste management.
- Pilot project was carried out in Ismayilly district, focusing on the recycling of plastic wastes and consequently becoming a model for replication in other districts.
The immediate challenge was to reveal the existing situation and build a policy agenda for the most important initial steps in improving solid waste management in the entire country. With participation of the city authorities, utility services, NGOs, schools and citizens, surveys were conducted in Baku, Ismayilly and Sheki to determine per capita waste generation capacity.. Project also created a database of solid wastes across the country, with information on coordinates of dumping sites, waste accumulated in each site, their “growth speed”, distance to nearby cities and settlements, etc. Inventory of the solid waste sites was prepared and laboratory analyses were conducted in 50 districts across the country. The key milestones were the setting of per capita waste generation capacity and the wastes composition, which determine the appropriate policy options for reduction, recycling and reuse (RRR) strategy.
Today, the survey results and the database are used by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Economic Development to build the country’s SWM strategy. Moreover, the project assisted in developing the National Strategy on reduction, recycling and reuse of the solid wastes, and helped to draft critical revisions and amendments to different regulatory documents by the Cabinet of Ministers on incineration, land-filling, and sanitary norms for solid waste management.
A pilot project was implemented in Ismayilly to demonstrate the practical advantages of recycling and processing different plastic wastes, which are among the least biologically degradable materials. Today the Ismayilly municipality has cleaner environment and improved livelihoods due to the plastic wastes being collected from the community and new jobs created for recycling these wastes into plastic hoses for electricity, construction and irrigation purposes, and other well-marketable products. Also, more agricultural opportunities arise for the community members, as more land is freed with the cleanup and less landfill areas are required.
UNDP also administered awareness-raising campaigns in project locations to inform the public about solid waste problems and greener practices.
Mr. Rovshan Agayev, the First Deputy of Ismayilly Executive Authority, expresses his content with the now-completed project: “Tons of plastic wastes are turned into useful things; it also means job creation for many people involved in this work. This project demonstrated how successful the cooperation between international organizations, central and local authorities could be!”