On August 4, the USAID-funded Waste Management Technologies in Regions (WMTR) program in collaboration with Goodwill Hypermarket and a local waste collection company opened the first publicly available recycling facility at a Georgian supermarket. The facility, or “recycling corner” has been installed at Goodwill’s Didi Digomi branch in Tbilisi. The kickoff event drew over 50 people and was attended by the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy, Nicholas Berliner, USAID Acting Deputy Mission Director, Mark Mitchell, and the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, Gigla Agulashvili.
Goodwill is the first hypermarket chain in Georgia to introduce publicly available recycling. Customers and members of the community will now be able to recycle paper, PET bottles, plastic bags, and aluminum cans. Recyclables collected from the corner by Supta Samkaro, Ltd., a local waste collection company, will no longer end up in landfills.
Publicly available recycling programs offer a comparatively cost effective option for areas that may not have widely available recycling programs. People and waste companies meet halfway, reducing costs associated with infrastructure and transport. Goodwill’s function as a market also maximizes this program’s reach. It is frequently visited by members of the community and located in one of Tbilisi’s largest districts; recycling at the market is a convenience, not a hassle.
The WMTR team began collaborating with Goodwill’s management in May 2016. Goodwill then employed Supta Samkaro, Ltd. to install a press and construct the recycling corner at the market. By jointly developing a communication strategy, WMTR and the Goodwill sought to inform as many people as possible of the new program. The teams developed a commercial to advertise the initiative and publicize the kickoff over social media. As of August 8, news of the program has reached over 45,000 people over Facebook and has been covered by two major Georgian news outlets.
Given the early success of this program, the WMTR team and Goodwill’s management have plans to replicate this program at the Goodwill hypermarket in Batumi, Adjara AR.
The WMTR program is implemented with funding from USAID by the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA), along with the Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN), in close cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, the Ministry of Regional and Development Infrastructure of Georgia, and regional and local governments.
Publicly Available Recycling at Goodwill Hypermarket