We Recycle! Georgian Communities Take Action Against Plastic Pollution

UNDP Accelerator Lab boosts plastic waste management in Batumi and Tbilisi through a behavioural experiment supported by Germany and Qatar

May 16, 2023

Waste separation bins. Batumi

Photo: UNDP Georgia/Irakli Dzneladze

UNDP Resident Representative in Georgia Nick Beresford hosted a summary event of the UNDP Accelerator Lab's project "Development of the Plastic Waste Management Chain and Practices" which took place in Batumi and Tbilisi municipalities. The project promoted plastic waste collection and recycling in these two cities through a behavioural experiment.

The event brought together distinguished guests, including H.E. Peter Fischer, the Ambassador of Germany to Georgia; H.E. Hassan bin Ahmed Al-Mutawa, the Ambassador of Qatar to Georgia; and Archil Chikovani, Batumi Mayor, along with representatives of diplomatic missions, international organizations, and civil society.

During the event, UNDP presented a short documentary showcasing sustainable waste management practices. The documentary provided insights into a behavioural experiment that went viral and inspired local governments and communities across Georgia to take action against plastic waste pollution. The experiment demonstrated how sustainable municipal practices, relevant infrastructure, and targeted communication campaigns can significantly reduce plastic waste and facilitate a shift towards sustainable management of municipal waste.

Speaking at the event, Nick Beresford highlighted the importance of collaboration in tackling plastic waste pollution. "Our work with Germany, Qatar, and Batumi municipality is a great example of how a small but well-designed experiment can open up much bigger opportunities. We found communities in Batumi were very willing and able to sort their plastic waste at source – people want a cleaner city. Batumi city council were quick to scale this up and connect it to their recycling programme. It shows we can successfully expand recycling systems even if we’re still developing basic waste management services”, Beresford said.

The success of the waste management project and the experimental approach taken by UNDP were praised by attendees, with the German Ambassador stating that the project is an excellent example of how innovation and experimentation can be used to tackle global challenges.

The Ambassador of Qatar noted that the successful results of the project are expected to inspire similar initiatives in other parts of Georgia.

The Mayor of Batumi stressed Batumi City Hall’s commitment to sustainable urban development and environmental protection. He also noted that initiatives such as the waste management experiment help turn Batumi into Georgia’s greenest, cleanest and most sustainable urban space. 


UNDP Accelerator Lab launched its behavioural experiment in 2021 with 40 plastic waste collection bins being installed in the residential areas of Batumi and Tbilisi. This was followed by a targeted educational campaign on plastic waste collection in the pilot districts. 

In Batumi only, the experiment led to a 16-fold increase in plastic waste collection, from 50 to 800 kilograms per week. 

Building on this success, UNDP and Sweden, as part of their Governance Reform Fund (GRF) programme, helped equip municipal waste collection and recycling facilities in Batumi and assisted the city in developing and adopting a municipal waste management plan.

As Georgia continues its journey towards a climate-smart and sustainable economy, UNDP will assist the country by promoting sustainable waste management, responsible production and consumption, and other sustainable practices in close partnership with national stakeholders, donors and supporters.


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