On July 24-31 2015, the Waste Management Technologies in Regions (WMTR) program conducted the first exchange under its city-to-city partnership activity. Delegates from Telavi Municipality in Georgia visited Catawba County, North Carolina, to learn about the waste management operation system and procedures existing in the United States. The visit also provided Catawba County officials with an opportunity to share their experiences with Georgian counterparts and—for both groups—to identify possible areas of cooperation in the future.
During their stay, the Telavi delegation visited Catawba County Government Center, met the county’s key staff, received an overview of the county solid waste services, and discussed a fee-setting process for waste disposal. The delegation observed Catawba’s residential curbside collection process and visited the city of Hickory's Transfer Station, EcoComplex Resource Recovery Facility (Landfill), Blue Ridge Biofuels, and the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). The delegates were particularly impressed by the MRF, which extracts approximately 2,900 tons of saleable commodities per month from the waste stream, about one-third from Catawba County and the rest from neighboring counties.
As part of this knowledge-sharing activity, Catawba County also introduced the delegates to the Keep Catawba County Beautiful (KCCB) program promoting education and responsible behavior regarding littering, recycling, proper solid waste management, and beautification through positive individual and community involvement.
On the final days of the exchange, WMTR representatives, Catawba County, and Telavi City identified concrete issues of cooperation. The team determined that it would be most beneficial for the improvement of the Telavi waste management system to focus on specific activities, including developing a city waste fee recovery plan, introducing a separated waste collection system, and increasing the effectiveness of Telavi existing waste management systems through a series of specific changes (e.g., review and revision of bins placement, routing options).
The next trip of the Catawba County delegation to Telavi City in the framework of this city-to-city exchange program is planned for September 2015. During this planned visit, Tom Lundy, Catawba County manager, and Barry Edwards, Catawba County director of utilities and engineering, will work with Telavi municipal officials to advance in the implementation of the action items outlined above.
The Telavi - Catawba partnership was officially launched in March 2015 when Catawba representatives visited Georgia first under the city-to-city activity of the USAID-funded WMTR program. Telavi's follow on visit to Catawba County was made a success through the efforts of Catawba County staff and USAID WMTR and its partners. Check out a short video of the exchange below.