Georgia Marks Progress in Managing E-waste

Extended Producer Responsibility in managing electronic waste was discussed yesterday at an online conference convened by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Government of Sweden in cooperation with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia. Representatives of the government, civil society, international organizations and the private sector discussed the challenges and benefits associated with sustainable waste management, the legal framework needed to support EPR through all economic sectors and its practical implementation in the e-waste sector.

Organized by the non-governmental organization “GEO – Georgia’s Environmental Outlook,” the online conference summarised a 16-month initiative implemented by UNDP and Sweden to help Georgia make its e-waste management greener and more sustainable.

“The new Waste Management Code is one of the fundamental reforms initiated and implemented by the Government of Georgia in recent years,” said Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture Nino Tandilashvili. “Introducing the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility is a critical part of this change, needed to make our economy more sustainable, in line with Georgia’s international commitments under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.”

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) reduces the environmental impact of production by making manufacturers and importers responsible for the entire life-cycle of a product, from manufacture to recycling. The EPR concept has been incorporated into Georgia’s current Waste Management Code and entered into force in December 2019.

“Making a success of these new policies will require a revolution in people’s thinking,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “They need to understand that waste doesn’t vanish when it’s thrown away, but instead becomes a blight on nature and a hazard to health. Electronic waste is particularly harmful, which is why UNDP has made this sector a priority in our efforts to support recycling, recovery, reuse and other pillars of the circular economy.”   

UNDP and Sweden have been assisting Georgia for the last three years in preparing the legal framework to implement EPR and informing the business community and the public sector about its principles, focusing on the e-waste sector. As a result of this support, a by-law on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) was adopted and the ground was prepared for establishing Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) in the e-waste sector. Several public awareness campaigns have been conducted to inform citizens and businesses about the environmental and health hazards associated with unsustainable management of electronic waste.

UNDP and Sweden also helped to conduct an inventory of over 300 informal e-waste collectors, study their needs and increase capacities through training and awareness-raising.  

“Reduce, reuse and recycle waste,” said Erik Illes, Head of Development Cooperation and Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Sweden to Georgia. “With the regulatory framework coming in place for Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR), Georgia takes another step towards sustainability. We are proud to support Georgia in promoting sustainable environmental policies, shifting for greener approaches in the economy and daily life.”

The initiative is part of wider support that UNDP and Sweden provide for democratic reforms in the public sector.

23 September 2020 13:46