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Kazakh company starts accepting wastepaper for recycling
New programme seen as important green initiative
By Alexandra Babkina
ALMATY – Since opening May 31, Kazakhstan’s first domestic wastepaper recycling station since independence already has collected several tonnes of old magazines, newspapers and other forms of paper to be remade into new paper products.
It is one of five such stations that the Kazakhstan Kagazy Co. paper and cardboard producer plans to open in the city in the next two months.
More such stations – 24 in all – are scheduled to open in Astana and other cities before the end of 2012.
“We’ll teach residents to collect and turn in wastepaper as they do in developed countries,” Kazakhstan Kagazy General Director Taisiya Kogutyuk said.
“The station has operated for just a few days, but we’ve seen people showing a fair degree of activity; they sometimes form a long line to turn in unwanted paper, books, brochures and cardboard boxes,” said Igor Stavitsky, Kagazy Recycling manager in charge of the project. “We gather about 300-500kg of wastepaper a day.”
In opening the first wastepaper return station in Kazakhstan’s southern capital, Kazakhstan Kagazy Co. received help from the Almaty mayor’s office.
Wastepaper stays out of garbage dumps
Company staff and mayoral officials hope the wastepaper stations will trim the volume of non-recycled waste in Kazakhstan, which Kogutyuk described as “appallingly large.”
“We’ll do what we can to make sure this reusable waste, so valuable for the pulp-and-paper industry, won’t rot away in garbage dumps,” she said.
Nearly 100,000 tonnes of wastepaper is dumped annually in Almaty, only to be burned or allowed to decompose instead of being recycled, according to the Almaty Waste Management and Environmental Protection Department.
In the future, Kazakhstan Kagazy plans to accept other domestic waste – plastic, empty bottles and jars, polyethylene, etc. -- and forward it to companies that specialise in recycling such materials.
Kazakhstani environmental culture lacking
“By opening this wastepaper recycling station, we not only made a step toward adopting a more economical technology of paper production but also moved to develop people’s environmentalism, teaching them to feel responsible for the city’s tidiness and environment and for preservation of forests,” Waste Management and Environmental Protection Department head Rustam Kopenov said.
Any Almaty resident is now welcome to return wastepaper for a payment, with no restrictions on the weight. Old newspapers fetch 3 KZT (2 US cents) per kg; writing paper, books and magazines 7 KZT (5 US cents); and cardboard and cardboard boxes 15 KZT (10 US cents).
“The per-kilo price may look nominal, but it will anyway be an incentive for people to return wastepaper, particularly in large amounts, for a reward,” Stavitsky said.
“A man arrived at the station this morning to return nearly a tonne of old books and magazines,” he said. “It took the operator more than an hour to weigh it all.”
A sense of social responsibility, not financial gain, should drive recycling, environmentalists say.
To explain the importance of recycling wastepaper, Kazakhstan Kagazy and local authorities plan to organise lectures at schools and universities.
They also plan to post notices at entrances to apartment buildings urging residents to carry wastepaper to the nearest stations.
“We thought this initiative would be upheld only by senior citizens, who remember the way wastepaper recycling was organised in the Soviet Union,” Kopenov said. “But youth responded actively, too – students of the Ecology Department at the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University volunteered to organise a wastepaper return campaign at their university.”
“In (Soviet times), we collected wastepaper at home and then carried it to the return stations in 5kg stacks,” retiree Anna Okhmanovich recalled. “In exchange, we were given coupons for the purchase of valuable books. I’d be happy to see the seeds planted by Kazakhstan Kagazy give sprouts and the habit of recycling wastepaper take root.”
But recycling stopped after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Recycling saves trees
Kazakhstan Kagazy is one of the country’s most active companies in raw material recycling and promoting sustainable development. Last year, it gathered nearly 45 tonnes of wastepaper for recycling, from which 43 tonnes of new paper was produced.
“The EU countries produce 50% to 70% and Russia 10% of their paper through wastepaper recycling, whereas Kazakhstan has no official statistics regarding this matter at all,” Kogutyuk said with regret.
Recycling a tonne of wastepaper saves 16 trees, Kogutyuk said. “It’s also important that wastepaper recycling into new paper is less energy-intensive and less harmful to the environment than timber processing,” Mels Yeleusizov, leader of the pro-environmental Tabigat Party, noted.
Besides Kazakhstan Kagazy, Karina Co., a producer of sanitary paper products, also accepts wastepaper. However, Karina is more oriented toward large wastepaper suppliers.