EU4Environment supports Georgia in strengthening waste management policy

Published in Economics
Wednesday, 31 August 2022 11:10

The Georgian government has amended its national waste management strategy and approved a new action plan, boosting the scope and ambition of the country’s policies in managing waste.

The update to the National Waste Management Strategy and the preparation of the New National Action Plan were formally approved this month, and were achieved with technical support from the EU-funded EU4Environment Programme.

The amended National Waste Management Strategy 2016-2030 aims to define the waste management policy and goals at the national level for 15 years and seeks to ensure the best international experience in the process of developing a waste management system in Georgia, through gradual convergence with the goals and objectives of the European waste management policy.

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    In September 2022, the SarsCov-2 virus was analysed for the first time in wastewater samples from Yerevan, Baku, Tbilisi and Chisinau. The sampling, analysis and evaluation concept was developed with the support of the European Union. Experts from the Austrian Environment Agency and the Vienna University of Technology provided guidance on the development of procedures and allowed the first analysis of COVID-19 in wastewater in each of the countries. 

    Over the coming months, European experts will help the programme partners in the Eastern Partnership countries to implement the practice on a permanent basis and train them in interpreting the data. In parallel, sampling will be expanded to increase the coverage of COVID-19 monitoring. This will improve pandemic monitoring for overall health protection in each country and even internationally.

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  • How can a business benefit from becoming ‘greener’?

    1. Why should my company become greener?

    An eco-friendly approach to production shows responsible entrepreneurship and brings important practical benefits for businesses. First, it reduces general production costs and brings transparency into material and energy flows. Secondly, it increases productivity, giving enterprises an opportunity to further expand their production with minimum risk and environmental impact. Moreover, by improving compliance and performance in line with environmental standards and market requirements, it contributes to new and better relationships with customers and stakeholders. Altogether, these benefits provide companies with a better competitive position in the national, as well as international markets.

    For example, thanks to the support provided by the European Union, approximately 2,000 Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production measures were identified for 357 SMEs and organisations in the Eastern partner countries, with a payback period of less than 5 years, which could annually save companies up to €10 million, as well as:

    • 158 GWh of energy – equivalent to the energy consumption of 43,000 average European Union households of 2-3 members
    • 1,394,490 m3 of water – equivalent to the water consumption by 12,563 average European households
    • 44,210 t of raw materials

    Those measures also help to avoid 81,115 t of CO2 emissions (approximately 17,644 average cars removed from the streets) and 22,694 t of solid waste (equivalent to the amount of waste produced by 4,364 average European Union inhabitants) per annum.

    In a nutshell, resource efficiency helps to stimulate technological innovation, create green jobs, benefit consumers through more sustainable products, and opens new export markets and business opportunities for local companies.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many businesses. Several sectors have been brought to a standstill, impacting the economy on an unprecedented scale. In this context, there is no place for wastages of any kind. Optimising workflows, materials, energy, and water usage to reduce costs and improve quality are essential to enable a rapid recovery of industries. Resource efficient and cleaner production can become an important tool for economic recovery, as it implies a thoughtful use of limited resources to achieve maximum production benefits. Better process control, improvement of working conditions, safe chemical management, upgrading to best available technology, energy efficiency, reduction and revalorisation of waste, innovation for green products, among others, are Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production strategies that contribute to businesses pursuing recovery strategies.

    Efficient and Cleaner Production practices, technologies, and industrial symbiosis are part of the first steps. See more about EU4Environment activities piloting Eco-Industrial Parks here.

    2. Why should I choose the Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production methodology to become greener?

    The Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production methodology has various applications ranging from product modification to better manufacturing process control and technology improvement. All of these integrated actions increase on-site reusability, product efficiency, and recyclability.

    Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production analysis helps the enterprise to identify the opportunities that make it more sustainable:

    • Careful selection of raw materials and energy sources (prioritising renewable energy);
    • Improvement of production processes through responsible management, efficient operation, and innovative and environmentally sound technologies;
    • Elimination or reduction of toxic and hazardous materials;
    • Reduction of waste, wastewater, and emissions;
    • Valorising residues and waste and promoting synergies among companies.

    Experience shows that more than 60% of Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production options require low implementation cost or relatively short payback periods that range between a few months and up to three years, thus facilitating a quick return and generation of savings that companies achieve using existing financial resources.

    Apart from the economic benefits, the results of these practices improve companies’ environmental and social performance, enhancing their business image on the market. They also ensure compliance, and facilitate access to green credits available through national and international financial institutions to implement high-cost options. Including the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions among the key performance indicators, Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production connects Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to financial mechanisms which promote climate change mitigation in order to encourage companies to improve energy efficiency and use renewable energy. 

    3. How Resource Efficient and Cleaner Productionhelps to reduce costs?

    Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production has been internationally recognised as a tool for optimising resources in all types of facilities:

    • In manufacturing processes, Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production focuses on conserving raw materials, water, and energy, while eliminating toxic and dangerous materials and reducing emissions and waste directly at their generation source.
    • For products, Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production analyses resource demand along the value chain and lifecycle of the product.  It promotes eco-design principles that increase product lifespan, durability, and/or recyclability to reduce negative impacts during the lifecycle.
    • For service facilities, Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production introduces management practices and technology to reduce energy demand in buildings and transportation. The improvement of management, technology, and logistics in order to introduce responsible purchasing, minimise waste generation and promote recycling programmes is a way to engage service businesses and promote innovation on circular practices (repairing, reuse).

    For example, by mapping waste sources and determining hidden causes, a food company identified losses equivalent to a non-conforming product rate of 15% in its wafer production line. Through adjustment of the product formulation, improved operational control and the installation of a new creamer section, the company not only achieved a better quality of their wafers, but also reduced non-conformity rates to 5%.

    4. What are the concrete steps of Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production implementation?

    Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production is implemented as follows: Plan – Do – Check – Act

    • Plan – the commitment: It starts with a strong commitment from the management of the company focusing on areas such as product design, procurement, production, sale, and maintenance. The Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production company team is then established to lead an evaluation process that identifies inefficiencies and losses at the source level. Using tools such as process flow charts, waste mapping, and benchmarking research, a pre-assessment is developed to establish the relevant priorities.
    • Do – the assessment: The detailed material and energy balances are used to audit the most relevant resource flows in terms of costs and environmental impacts. Eco-design principles and root-cause analysis are then applied to identify improvement options. This is followed by the application of the Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production options hierarchy (selection of materials, good housekeeping, improved control, appropriate technology, internal recycling, external recycling). The Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production options are then evaluated for the technical, economic, and environmental feasibility to design an action plan to be implemented by the company.
    • Check – the monitoring: A monitoring system is designed to measure key performance and operational indicators established during the assessment. A Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production monitoring system is designed to keep track of the use of resources (input/output analysis, process indicators, lifecycle indicators, management indicators, etc.) and the true value of waste and emissions to continuously seek new opportunities and communicate results to internal and external stakeholders.
    • Act – the sustained integration with the management system: The last pillar is achieved by preparing an action plan, evaluation procedure, and communication strategy to keep a continued implementation of Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production options covering additional thematic areas of the company.

    5: What support is available for companies?

    The European Union supports countries in the Eastern Partnership region in their transition towards greener, more efficient and sustainable economies, while addressing environmental challenges and improving citizens’ environmental well-being. The European Union support addresses both technical and financing needs.

    Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production is one of the priority areas of the EU4Environment programme. Under EU4Environment, and with the technical support of UNIDO, national Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production partners in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine promote the use of Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production among SMEs. The national partners provide advisory services and Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production audits for companies, train experts and raise awareness about Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production, as well as facilitate access to green finance.

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    6. How can I use ‘green’ technologies in Georgia?

    You should get in touch with the Energy Efficiency Centre – a national partner of the EU4Environment Action in Georgia (https://recp.ge) for details about the Project’s activities in the country and the resources available to Georgian SMEs. These include the Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) Clubs in the regions of Kakheti and Mtskheta, which provide practical support to SMEs, company assessments and mentoring, as well as information about Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production and Circular Economy during specialised events.

    The Centre also supports Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production activities like trainings and events, the delivery of demonstration projects, preparation of thematic publications, and many more. It also offers leadership at national level and ensures the effective implementation of the Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production Project within the EU4Environment Action, providing advocacy and liaison with relevant national stakeholders in the government, the business sector, and with civil society.

    To learn more about how SMEs can save resources and money by investing in Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production , read the story of the Georgian company EcOil on how it recovered its investment through Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production assessed savings in just one year. You can also find out more about green finance opportunities for small businesses by checking out the Q&A on green investments for SMEs in Georgia.

    The material is prepared within the project "EU NEIGHBOURS east"

  • Why the environment matters and how the EU helps the Eastern partner countries to protect it

    Why the environment matters and how the EU helps the Eastern partner countries to protect it?

     

    1. 1.      Why should we care about the environment?

     

    We depend on nature for our very existence: we eat the food which grows in its soil, drink its fresh water and breathe its clean air. Housing, clothing, technology and recreation all depend on natural resources. All human activities impact on a fragile ecological balance. Disturbing this balance affects our wellbeing and prosperity.

     

    The next ten years are decisive in making our societies more resilient in the context of major climate and environmental challenges. Together we have to overcome a heavy legacy of past environmental failures, such as loss of natural habitats and biodiversity, erosion of the soil, illegal logging, poor air quality, polluted rivers,  deficient waste management, and many others.

     

    Investing into greener development will bring benefits for health, as well as new employment and economic growth opportunities. Working together on the environment and climate resilience is therefore vital.

      

    1. 2.      How can climate change impact our daily life?

     

    The significant and accelerated climate change caused by greenhouse gases as a result of  human activities is increasing and creates severe consequences for our economies and societies.

     

    The European Union and its Eastern neighbours are witnessing extreme rainfall events and flooding, as well as fires caused by heatwaves, soil erosion, fertility and biodiversity loss, and water resource scarcity, which are affecting industry, agriculture and households.

    Only recently, wildfires fanned by abnormally hot, dry and windy weather in Ukraine raged through the Chernobyl exclusion zone for over two weeks, destroying more than 11,000 hectares of forest – a stark example of the impact of climate change.

    Throughout the region, the countries are facing larger consequences of both droughts (Moldova ranks as the most climate vulnerable country in Europe and its total water availability will fall below total demand within a couple of decades), and floods (Azerbaijan is one of the most flood-prone areas in the world), as well as deteriorating water quality and risks to water supply (melting glaciers in Georgia threaten the country’s water security).

    Collective action against climate change will bring many benefits for the environment, for our health, and for the economy. Rethinking and shifting our development paradigm will be an opportunity for a more efficient use of natural resources, cost savings, growth and jobs.

    And if you think that climate action is expensive, think of the cost of doing nothing: Georgia estimates that climate-induced hazards could mean $10-12 billion in economic losses for the country over the next 10 years – ten times more than the cost of adapting to climate change over the same time period.

     

     

    1. 3.      What is the Paris Agreement about?

     

    The Paris Agreement is the first-ever legally binding global climate change commitment, adopted at the Paris climate conference in December 2015. The EU and its Member States, as well as the countries of the Eastern Partnership, are among the nearly 190 signatories. 

    The Agreement sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to below 2°C, and pursuing efforts to limit it further to 1.5°C. It also aims to strengthen countries’ ability to deal with the impact of climate change and support them in their efforts.

    The agreement stresses the need for global emissions to start coming down as soon as possible and to achieve climate neutrality in the second half of this century.

    The centrepiece of the European Union’s effort to meet its targets is the European Green Deal that aims to make Europe climate neutral by 2050, making the EU’s economy sustainable by decoupling economic growth from resource use.

    The Green Deal makes it clear that environmental and climate challenges require urgent action by the EU and its partner countries. The EU therefore supports its Eastern partners in their commitments under the Paris Agreement , including the implementation of national climate plans (nationally determined contributions, NDCs), the development of long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies (LEDS), as well as the modernisation of their economies by moving towards climate neutrality.

    Meeting these commitments will require a transition to a low carbon, resource-efficient economy, which means a fundamental shift in technology, energy, economics, finance and ultimately society as a whole.

      

    1. How does the EU contribute towards protecting the environment in the six Eastern partner countries?

     

    EU support to the Eastern partner countries has been increasing lately. A quarter of grants provided through the Neighbourhood Investment Platform (NIP) in 2018-2019 went to ‘green’ investments. EU blending contributions to such investments increased by more than 50% between 2014-15 and 2018-19, from approximately €67 million to €107 million. In 2018-19 alone, NIP grants unlocked €1.3 billion in overall green investments in the region.

    The EU has also contributed €60 million to implement regional programmes that help to improve policies and institutions in the Eastern Partnership in line with the European Green Deal. Support for municipalities amounts to some €24 million, while the partner countries also receive support through the TAIEX and Twinning programmes.

     

    EU-funded regional programmes include :

    EU4Environment (€19.5 million in EU funding) aims at helping the Eastern partner countries to preserve their natural capital and increase people’s well-being. The programme supports policy and legislative changes, makes planning and investment greener, stimulates innovative technologies and the adoption of new business models, as well as the creation of green jobs. It also promotes better environmental governance, improved management of protected areas and forests, and sustainable trade. 

    EU4Climate (€8 million in EU funding) is designed to support the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement and to improve climate policies and legislation, contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and development towards a low-emissions and climate-resilient economy. 

    The EU Water Initiative for the Eastern Partnership(EUWI+ 4 EaP – €23.5 million in EU funding)helps partner countries bring their legislation closer to EU policy in the field of water management, developing tools to improve the quality of water and its availability for all.

     

    Environment is also high on the priorities at country level, with actions focusing on areas such as air quality, water management and marine pollution, energy efficiency, waste management, tackling pesticides and industrial pollution, and sustainable forest management.

     

    In addition, to the European Union’s cooperation programmes, European Financial Institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) provide significant support for transition to the green economy by supporting low carbon and climate resilient growth, as well as investing in green infrastructures. The Eastern Europe Environment and Energy Efficiency Partnership (E5P) – a multi-donor trust fund of which the EU is the major donor – facilitates investments for municipal projects that improve energy efficiency and environmental protection. The EU-funded Municipal Project Support Facility (MPSF) provides technical assistance for the preparation of energy efficiency projects that can later be implemented through loans. The EU also significantly contributes to the Green for Growth Fund (GGF).

     

    1. 5.      What do these programmes actually do? Are there any success stories?

     

    Certainly, beyond the stated objectives and the headline budget figures lie some real success stories, protecting the environment, acting on climate change and promoting resilience and sustainability on the ground.

    For example, EU is helping to enable modern water policy at basin level for a vast territory covering 500,000 km², setting a clear path towards cleaner water for more than 30 million people in the six Eastern partner countries.

    With the EU’s support, Belarus, Moldova and Georgia launched the development of national green economy strategies. Ukraine is already in the top 20 countries in the world for organics farming, exporting €59 million worth of organic products in 2016, the majority certified to EU standards.

    More than 100 pilot SMEs in the region received EU support to carry out resource efficiency and cleaner production programmes, resulting in savings of €9.4 million (with an average of between €2,000 and €20,000 saved per enterprise, reaching up to €100,000 in some cases). Activities continue with the support of the EU4Environment programme.

    Environmental data is being aligned with EU and best international practice in all six partner countries, with data being available via an Internet-based tracking tool hosted by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

    To protect and connect natural areas and biodiversity, the six Eastern partners have identified nearly 700 Emerald Network sites with an area of 12.8 million hectares, more than four times the size of Belgium.

     

    EU support actions reach every level of society, from government policy all the way to raising awareness among primary school children, as you can see from the examples below:

    In Armenia, the Connecting Nature project supports the search for new, environmentally friendly ideas and solutions to environmental problems in Yerevan – for instance, to determine the types of plants and trees that are most suitable for a given environmental situation for different areas of the city.

    In Azerbaijan, EU experts from Finland, Austria and Latvia trained more than 200 employees of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources to monitor air quality; the Twinning project developed a detailed plan to modernise air quality monitoring systems, including the acquisition of 25 new air quality stations.

    In Belarus, schoolchildren have been taking part in a cross-border river cleanliness project on the Styr River that runs between Belarus and Ukraine, testing water quality and learning to detect nitrates, phosphates, and organic pollutants.

    In the Batumi region of Georgia, a €6.1 million project has ensured the rehabilitation of the water supply and sewage systems, as well as the construction of waste treatment plants, leading to uninterrupted clean water for the population, and reduced marine pollution.

    In Moldova, the burning of agricultural waste used to be a source of environmental pollution. Now, with EU support, the waste is in great demand to produce biofuel, which is used to heat 206 schools, kindergartens and public institutions.

    In Ukraine, more than 7,000 people took part in the 2019 #EUBeachCleanup challenge with 234 clean-ups in every oblast in the country, as part of International Clean Beach Day, when citizens around the world gather to clean river banks and beaches. More than 35.7 tonnes of waste were collected and removed to prevent them from polluting the waters.

    And across the region, officials from all countries received guidance on the environmental management of plastic waste, marine plastic litter and energy recovery from plastic waste during a TAIEX workshop on EU plastics strategy and single use plastic.

     

    Investment in green infrastructure is also very significant, with the support of the EBRD, the EIB and the E5P alongside other investment partners. In Ukraine, this has enabled investment in clean public transport, with new trolleybus fleets in Kherson, Mariupol and Lviv, as well as €35 million in support for waste management in Lviv. In Moldova, residents of Balti, have benefited from EBRD investment in energy efficient heating and new electric buses. In the Armenian capital Yerevan, EIB funding has contributed to the upgrade of the metro and improving energy efficiency in public buildings such as kindergartens. In Azerbaijan, the EBRD has provided financing for the purchase of 35 new eco-efficient buses, leading to an annual reduction of 2,853 tonnes of CO2. In Belarus, 300,000 people are benefiting from improved water quality thanks to an EBRD loan and an E5P grant for wastewater treatment facilities in seven municipalities. In Georgia, the EIB provided a long-term loan to Tbilisi’s water utility company to support its water and wastewater infrastructure development programme, while the EBRD is to invest €75 million in the modernisation of Tbilisi metro.

      

    1. 6.      How can I become more environment-friendly?

     

    As a citizen, you have the right, the capacity and the duty to take action for the environment. 
    Your everyday life choices as a voter and a consumer have the power to drive change in government policies, as well as companies’ decisions and innovations. 

    Consider the environmental footprint of all your purchases and reduce them, choose local products, avoid polluting substances and single-use plastic, reuse, recycle, separate, compact and dispose of waste correctly. 

    Adopt simple energy saving habits such as switching off lights and appliances, and closing and opening windows and shutters to keep ideal room temperature.

    To save water, take a shower instead of bath, and keep it short. Don’t leave taps running, and look out for any leaks (a leaking toilet can waste 200 litres of water per day). Water your plants in the late evening or early morning, when less water is lost through evaporation.

    Share your vehicle, unused objects or excess food with other people in your community, and opt for more sustainable transport and energy from renewable sources.

    If you can, keep your own fruit and vegetable garden (you can even use pots on a balcony or urban orchards), eat less meat and prefer plant-based meals, buy more diverse and less processed food, and bring your own bags and containers when shopping.

    Check out the EU’s climate tips for easy environmental advice for home, work, shopping and transport.

     

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