On October 10, 2017, Professor Hans Wiesmeth challenged ISET BA students to think about possible solutions to environmental issues, more specifically, how the country can deal with beverage packaging, which is a global environmental issue, with 1 billion plastic bottles produced each day (more than ten thousand every second). Only about 10% of these bottles are currently recovered and recycled.

Professor Wiesmeth presented his joint work in cooperation with N. Shavgulidze and N. Tevzadze (CENN), and Levan Pavlenishvili (ISET), which was entitled “Drinks Packaging in Georgia: Design of an Integrated Environmental Policy.” Professor Wiesmeth reviewed the current situation in Georgia, where there isn’t any separate collection or recycling of drinks containers, where the most waste packaging is taken to landfills, creating health concerns regarding plastics (some 30,000 tons), and refillable drinks containers are (almost) non-existent.

Based on international experience and analysis of the incentive structure of the policy recommended in his paper, Professor Wiesmeth suggests that Georgia install a separate collection system in major cities, which should gradually be extended to other parts of the country, and later be turned into a take-back system. A take-back system is a mandatory deposit-return system for soft drinks and beer containers, meaning that consumers pay some extra amount (deposit) upon purchase, and when the container is returned, the deposit is fully refunded. Another recommendation is to implement the EPR (extended producer responsibility) system by means of a collective system based on compliance schemes in a competitive framework. In addition, sorting and recycling should be done in Georgia in order to meet the very challenging provisions of the Association Agreement and the environmental regulations of Georgia, according to which 30% of plastic should be recycled by 2020.

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