The Armenian Environmental Network (AEN) is implementing a comprehensive integrated waste management program that incorporates recycling and reuse of the waste stream, public education and participation in waste stream segregation and management, a comprehensive composting program, a plan to move from the usage of plastic shopping bags to reusable bags and the construction of an appropriate technology sanitary landfill.
RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS ON WASTE
AEN launched a campaign on GlobalGiving to produce and disseminate Public Service Announcements (PSAs) and social advertisements to introduce sustainable waste management practices, educating Armenians about ways to reduce their “eco-footprint” by reducing, reusing and recycling. The PSAs and social advertisements call on Armenians to become the solution to the waste problem. In addition, AEN also organizes trash clean ups in various areas.
In 2012, AEN along with local partners launched the Integrated Waste Management Project (IWMP) in the town of Berd in Northern Armenia. The educational portion of the project was completed in May 2013. Also during the term of the project, a site for a landfill was identified and preliminary studies conducted. Funding is currently being sought for the construction of the landfill in Berd.
In 2013, AEN along with local partners launched the Vardenis Environmental Educational Initiative (VEEI) for communities of the Vardenis sub-region in Gegharkuniq Marz. The project was completed in May 2014.
AEN’s program is unique because it is designed specifically for implementation in rural areas where resources and money are in short supply. The challenge is to create a solution to the increasing problem of waste disposal that is both affordable and sustainable. AEN has a solution. This solution requires a comprehensive approach that includes the traditional change management mechanisms as well as the approach of a non-traditional use of “appropriate technology”. In the case of a rural village, an appropriate technology sanitary landfill is the only feasible solution that remains after recycling and re-use has removed the majority of the waste stream.
Using appropriate technology, regional sanitary landfills can be constructed for a fraction of the cost of the landfills constructed in Europe and the United States. These landfills necessarily are “low-tech” and designed to be managed and maintained in a sanitary and sustainable manner. Armenia currently has over 400 rural dumps, none of which are constructed in a sanitary and environmentally safe fashion. This fact bears repeating. Armenia does not have, to our knowledge, a single sanitary landfill. In addition, trash piles line the roadways and clog the rivers and streams. Animals and birds scavenge the piles and dumps and spread germs and disease. An appropriate technology landfill offers a viable solution to these and other problems.
Jobs will be produced in the waste management field, as wastes need to be collected, bundled and sold to recycling companies, as well as a person(s) to manage the overall operation. Additionally, there will be temporary jobs provided with the construction of a recycling station and the sanitary landfill.
The project is designed to be replicable, thus it will serve as a replicable model for other rural villages that endeavor to solve their waste problems. AEN envisions that villages, in close proximity to one another, combine resources to create regional landfills. Regional landfills negate the necessity to construct 400 separate fills. In the case of Armenia, using this approach, perhaps 50 -60 regional appropriate technology sanitary landfills would suffice.
The importance of this project cannot be overstated. The time has come for Armenia to address this issue. AEN believes that villages are ready to address the growing problem that is waste management and we have a potential solution. Our project is partially funded but we are seeking additional funding in order ensure that it is implemented properly.
Why Waste Management?
Armenia is currently being choked by trash and is in desperate need of sanitary waste management infrastructure. Currently in Armenia, wastes are typically deposited in gorges, ravines, natural depressions, or in streams. Dumps in Armenia do not have protective barriers to keep toxic leachates from seeping into the soil and eventually into the water table. Additionally, wastes of all varieties are routinely burned; releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere. This presents an extremely dangerous situation not only for the environment but also for human health and the future of Armenia.
AEN’s waste management project will start the process of cleaning up and beautifying the country, making it healthier for its citizens and more appealing to tourists and investors. A low-tech landfill has never been done before in this region. AEN will build the infrastructure from the bottom up and will create jobs for Armenians in the waste management industry.
Additionally, the entire project is conducted with strong community involvement, including public hearings and educational trainings, a process that many Armenians have never been exposed to. Through this project, Armenian citizens will be exposed to the democratic process.
Armenia needs a sanitary waste management infrastructure and many individuals and organizations within and outside of Armenia are interesting in developing such an industry in the country. The time is now to help clean up Armenia and create jobs in the process.
AEN invites all Armenians and non-Armenians to invest in a project so unique and far reaching that it will put Armenia on the map as having a modern yet affordable solution to its waste management problem. Please join us and support this extremely important initiative.
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