Changing waste management practices in Georgian cities

UNDP Accelerator Lab conducts a behavioural experiment to support waste separation in Batumi and Tbilisi

Posted September 8, 2021

Photo: David Khizanishvili/UNDP

UNDP signed memorandums of understanding with the Batumi and Tbilisi municipalities, to assist the two largest Georgian cities introduce plastic waste separation practices and promote sustainable lifestyles.

Through its Accelerator Lab, UNDP will study household waste behaviour to find out what measures would stimulate people to separate waste and how municipal authorities could support this process.

UNDP’s behavioural experiment will reveal whether adequate infrastructure and public awareness has a notable impact on waste management practices. Up to 40 separation bins for plastic waste will be installed in several districts of both cities. In the pilot districts, UNDP will organize an educational campaign to inform people about the environmental and other benefits of waste sorting, while in the other districts, no additional information will be provided to the residents. Changes in household waste behaviour will be compared in both groups to measure the effectiveness of public awareness activities.

The USD 34,000 project will be implemented from September through December 2021 in close partnership with the Batumi and Tbilisi municipalities and in cooperation with the ltd Sandasuptaveba in Batumi and Ltd Tbilservicegroup in Tbilisi.

“Georgia’s fastest-growing cities, Tbilisi and Batumi, are struggling with a waste management issue. Separation is the first critical step towards a circular economy that benefits people and the environment,” said UNDP Deputy Head Anna Chernyshova. “Understanding household behaviour will help reveal decisive factors to change a widespread social practice and promote waste sorting through effective policies and other mechanisms.”

Around 900,000 tons of waste is generated annually in Georgia and more than 75 percent ends up in landfill sites increasing pollution and posing long-lasting threats to the environment and human health. Georgia’s National Waste Management Strategy for 2016-2030 provides a target timeline for recycling certain types of waste. For example, the country should be recycling 50 percent of plastic waste by 2025 and 80 percent by 2030. To fulfil this ambitious goal, Georgia must implement a complex set of measures to prevent excessive waste generation and stimulate the transition to sustainable waste management.

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