Making Pavers from Plastic Trash for The Clean Future in The Cities | EUNewsletter

Making Pavers from Plastic Trash for The Clean Future in The Cities

21 February 2019

Just imagine for a moment that you are walking through trash, mostly bottles and other fragments of plastic. Not a pleasant picture, indeed, isn’t it? And what about leaving that scene and starting to imagine clean streets paved with blocks made from that trash?/

“It is possible,” you would say, ”But not in Armenia in the coming several years.”

It turns out the future is not that far away as it might seem initially.

Urban Foundation which is engaged in the implementation of the project “Turning Environmental Challenges into Opportunities: Introducing construction materials from plastic waste” has some inspiring news. According to the project the plastic waste in the two Armenian southern provinces, Syunik and Vayots Dzor will be collected and sent to the city of Kapan, where they will be recycled into sand-polymeric items such as pave blocks, roof tiles, etc.

“As per the technology plastic is mixed into the sand while the former being much lighter than the cement, successfully substitutes it as gluing material. Plastic is also stronger and enduring to elements compared to the concrete.

“Our market research showed that polymeric sand blocks are more cost-efficient than the traditional concrete ones. In our technology, the polymeric sand will consist of 75 percent sand, 24 percent plastic material and 1 percent coloring agent which is used to give a specific color to the final produce. The material which we get after processing is poured into molds in the needed shape,” Urban Foundation project coordinator Samvel Nazaryan elaborates.

The project is being implemented in nine cities of the Syunik and Vayots Dzor regions, Sisian, Kapan, Goris, Meghri Agarak, Kajaran, Yeghegnadzor, Vayk and Jermuk, while the foundation has a long history of cooperation with Kapan.

According to the previous project implemented by the foundation, bins were placed in Kapan for collecting plastic bottles. They were subsequently shipped to Yerevan where they were made into plastic flakes and exported.

However the project limited itself with collecting only PET bottles, which were cleaned of labels, sorted and all that was time and resource consuming process.

Currently, the project is in the phase of its implementation while the workshop in Kapan is about to kick off in spring 2019. Orders have been placed for delivering bins for plastic trash to be placed in all of the nine communities, some of them have been already installed. The public utility companies in each of those towns are provided with one pressing machine which condenses the plastic bottles almost tenfold.

To operate the pressing machines, nine additional jobs were created as per the project requirements. We can speak of a certain social by-impact of the project if we consider that twenty more jobs were created thanks to the planned workshop in Kapan.

“Currently when the workshop is not yet functioning the plastic bottles collected is being sent to Yerevan where there are two workshops ho buy the raw material, grind it into flakes and sell it abroad,” Samvel says.

He is not just an optimist. He pinpoints problems accumulated for years in this field as well.

In 2017 the government adopted a 20-year strategy for managing solid household waste management which also tackled the issue of waste sorting and the private sector’s involvement into it. However, any legal obligation or regulation is missing altogether. No waste management company is legally bound to sort the waste,” Samvel says with concern.

Owner of the Goris-based “Mirhav” hotel, Shahen, who considers pollution of the city and its environments with plastic a calamity, also shares his story of previous attempts and failures.

“Years ago I wanted to assist somehow recycling plastic waste, but I didn’t succeed. I wanted to convince plastic recycling factories in Yerevan to place plastic waste bins in Goris, but they said they said the quantity is too little and it won’t be cost-effective. So I try to do something on my own, but then I realised there are too many organizational problems that I won’t be able to manage them,” Shahen says.

Then his face shines with excitement as he speaks on the EU-financed project implemented by the Urban Foundation.

“I have lots of plastic waste, like my old and broken benches from plastic, for instance, collected and stored, which I don’t want to dump. Thank god Samvel has reached out to me and said they would collect it and recycle. I have a storage full of empty plastic bottles collected since long, and of course, I’ll give all of them for recycling,” Shahen says.

Recycling bottles and other plastic waste is certainly important. However, a key to the success of the project is the cooperation with the local populace.

“If the population of the communities doesn’t cooperate and learn to sort waste, we will fail in our mission,” Samvel says and highlights activities so far done.

Educational materials have been designed, a course on the environment with particular stress on plastic waste separation and an introduction into the global best practice was introduced in public schools, social ad banners calling for sorting waste were installed, and other activities were implemented within the scope of the project.

“Plastic waste bins are visual indicators to the success. If initially lots of different waste was being dumped into them, currently we find almost exclusively plastic inside them, and they are being filled quickly.”

Initially, the local population was so unaware of plastic waste collecting that some funny cases occurred, Samvel says. Once, for instance, in a local community inhabitant who didn’t have the slightest idea about plastic waste sorting, took the bin looking very similar to a cage and started to use it to keep his rabbits. “We identified who did it and asked to take it back to its original place,” Samvel says laughingly.

The projects implemented in the town of the two Armenian regions will most probably be continued. We hope the day when we go out for a walk long we instead of coming across with heaps of plastic waste, we’ll enjoy the sight the streets paved with clean, endurable and colored plastic blocks and roof tiles made of plastic waste.

Making Pavers from Plastic Trash for The Clean Future in The Cities

Just imagine for a moment that you are walking through trash, mostly bottles and other fragments of plastic. Not a pleasant picture, indeed, isn’t it? And what about leaving that scene and starting to imagine clean streets paved with blocks made from that trash?/

“It is possible,” you would say, ”But not in Armenia in the coming several years.”

It turns out the future is not that far away as it might seem initially.

Urban Foundation which is engaged in the implementation of the project “Turning Environmental Challenges into Opportunities: Introducing construction materials from plastic waste” has some inspiring news. According to the project the plastic waste in the two Armenian southern provinces, Syunik and Vayots Dzor will be collected and sent to the city of Kapan, where they will be recycled into sand-polymeric items such as pave blocks, roof tiles, etc.

“As per the technology plastic is mixed into the sand while the former being much lighter than the cement, successfully substitutes it as gluing material. Plastic is also stronger and enduring to elements compared to the concrete.

“Our market research showed that polymeric sand blocks are more cost-efficient than the traditional concrete ones. In our technology, the polymeric sand will consist of 75 percent sand, 24 percent plastic material and 1 percent coloring agent which is used to give a specific color to the final produce. The material which we get after processing is poured into molds in the needed shape,” Urban Foundation project coordinator Samvel Nazaryan elaborates.

The project is being implemented in nine cities of the Syunik and Vayots Dzor regions, Sisian, Kapan, Goris, Meghri Agarak, Kajaran, Yeghegnadzor, Vayk and Jermuk, while the foundation has a long history of cooperation with Kapan.

According to the previous project implemented by the foundation, bins were placed in Kapan for collecting plastic bottles. They were subsequently shipped to Yerevan where they were made into plastic flakes and exported.

However the project limited itself with collecting only PET bottles, which were cleaned of labels, sorted and all that was time and resource consuming process.

Currently, the project is in the phase of its implementation while the workshop in Kapan is about to kick off in spring 2019. Orders have been placed for delivering bins for plastic trash to be placed in all of the nine communities, some of them have been already installed. The public utility companies in each of those towns are provided with one pressing machine which condenses the plastic bottles almost tenfold.

To operate the pressing machines, nine additional jobs were created as per the project requirements. We can speak of a certain social by-impact of the project if we consider that twenty more jobs were created thanks to the planned workshop in Kapan.

“Currently when the workshop is not yet functioning the plastic bottles collected is being sent to Yerevan where there are two workshops ho buy the raw material, grind it into flakes and sell it abroad,” Samvel says.

He is not just an optimist. He pinpoints problems accumulated for years in this field as well.

In 2017 the government adopted a 20-year strategy for managing solid household waste management which also tackled the issue of waste sorting and the private sector’s involvement into it. However, any legal obligation or regulation is missing altogether. No waste management company is legally bound to sort the waste,” Samvel says with concern.

Owner of the Goris-based “Mirhav” hotel, Shahen, who considers pollution of the city and its environments with plastic a calamity, also shares his story of previous attempts and failures.

“Years ago I wanted to assist somehow recycling plastic waste, but I didn’t succeed. I wanted to convince plastic recycling factories in Yerevan to place plastic waste bins in Goris, but they said they said the quantity is too little and it won’t be cost-effective. So I try to do something on my own, but then I realised there are too many organizational problems that I won’t be able to manage them,” Shahen says.

Then his face shines with excitement as he speaks on the EU-financed project implemented by the Urban Foundation.

“I have lots of plastic waste, like my old and broken benches from plastic, for instance, collected and stored, which I don’t want to dump. Thank god Samvel has reached out to me and said they would collect it and recycle. I have a storage full of empty plastic bottles collected since long, and of course, I’ll give all of them for recycling,” Shahen says.

Recycling bottles and other plastic waste is certainly important. However, a key to the success of the project is the cooperation with the local populace.

“If the population of the communities doesn’t cooperate and learn to sort waste, we will fail in our mission,” Samvel says and highlights activities so far done.

Educational materials have been designed, a course on the environment with particular stress on plastic waste separation and an introduction into the global best practice was introduced in public schools, social ad banners calling for sorting waste were installed, and other activities were implemented within the scope of the project.

“Plastic waste bins are visual indicators to the success. If initially lots of different waste was being dumped into them, currently we find almost exclusively plastic inside them, and they are being filled quickly.”

Initially, the local population was so unaware of plastic waste collecting that some funny cases occurred, Samvel says. Once, for instance, in a local community inhabitant who didn’t have the slightest idea about plastic waste sorting, took the bin looking very similar to a cage and started to use it to keep his rabbits. “We identified who did it and asked to take it back to its original place,” Samvel says laughingly.

The projects implemented in the town of the two Armenian regions will most probably be continued. We hope the day when we go out for a walk long we instead of coming across with heaps of plastic waste, we’ll enjoy the sight the streets paved with clean, endurable and colored plastic blocks and roof tiles made of plastic waste.