Author: Vafa ZEYNALOVA
What does happen to garbage after it is taken out of the garbage bin? How does the garbage processing industry work? People start asking such questions. Previously, the garbage was trivially piled up at a designated polygon in the village of Balakhany. And if this situation remained for some time, the residents of Baku would face a real ecological catastrophe.
On August 6, 2008 the President of Azerbaijan issued a decree "On improving the management of solid household waste in the city of Baku" and established OJSC Temiz Shahar. The company was entrusted with the creation of a modern waste management system. Soon, Temiz Shahar has managed to extinguish the fires on the territory of the Balakhany dump - a landfill handed over to the company in 2009, and a thick cover of smoke over Balakhany has disappeared. The territory of the site was fenced, a clear system of protection, accounting of waste, a modern internal and external infrastructure was created, normal operating conditions for the landfill staff were ensured.
The most important step in the establishment of a garbage collection system was the launch of a plant for the incineration of solid household waste (SHW) in 2012, which is operating in accordance with international standards.
It is always interesting to open a veil of the unknown for yourself. Here in the "kingdom of garbage” we learned how the recycled waste can serve for the benefit of society. One of the priority activities of OJSC "Temiz Shahar" is the production of secondary raw materials from the total volume of domestic waste and its direction for re-production. There is a special plant for sorting solid household wastes. Separation from the total mass in the process of sorting paper, glass, plastic, non-ferrous metals and others leads to a reduction in the total volume of household waste, energy saving and, most importantly, to a decrease in the negative environmental impact. Thus, recycling one ton of paper can prevent the cutting of 17 trees.
In general, the plant is capable of sorting up to 200 thousand tons of garbage a year. After such sorting, everything will find a way to be ready for repeated utilization.
Nothing is Wasted
Often the personnel of the plant finds even the most unexpected objects in the garbage; thrown out either accidentally or as unnecessary. The management of the plant has set up a small museum for such items in the administrative building. You can find here cute souvenirs made of glass, metal, antique cupholders and even daggers. “We usually show all these exhibits during excursions," says Elmar Malikov, head of the Public Relations Service, Temiz Shahar. Every Thursday, the plant arranges excursions for schools. There are so many interested people that we often cannot arrange the excursions for everyone."
Unprocessed garbage is sent to the incineration plant, which can burn up to 500 thousand tons of waste and 10 thousand tons of medical waste per year.
The electric power received as a result of burning solid household wastes (231.5 million kWh) goes to the substation located just on the plant’s territory, and then it is distributed to city stations and substations. This is enough for full coverage of a city like Sumgayit or Ganja within a year. In terms of productivity, this Baku-based company is considered the largest among similar in Eastern Europe and the CIS. The plant, built using the technologies of the fourth generation (4G), fully complies with the strictest regulations of the European Union in the field of environmental protection. The greenhouse gas reduction project for the plant was successfully registered in accordance with the clean development mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol adopted under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
It is for this reason that the name of such plants has recently been changed from “waste incineration plants” to “waste-to-energy” enterprises.
But besides this there is also waste, which is not suitable for sorting, processing or burning. This is primarily organic garbage - food remains, etc. Such waste is buried in a special way at the landfill disinfection yard. "This landfill is not far from the former Balakhany garbage dump. Now there is no trace left of it. Organic and other wastes are buried in the ground, a special geomembrane is laid over them. Then a layer of waste is put on it again followed by another a layer, and so on. The methane released because of decay of organic matter is taken through pipes into a special cylinder, and from there to an industrial substation. Dirty waters go through a filtering system and are used for irrigation. We have been able to plant 11,000 trees here so far," says Mr. Malikov.
Ideally, the garbage should be sorted by the population itself, for which sorting garbage cans are established in cities and regions. In addition, garbage must be selected and packaged already in homes, which in our conditions is still an unattainable reality. "In reality, our powers are limited to the fact that we accept garbage and sort it. In general, there is no practice of sorting garbage in Azerbaijan”, says Mr. Malikov. But in 2010, on the initiative of "Temiz Shahar", a pilot project was launched in the village of Tamiz Gala. This is one of the largest settlements outside the city. "We installed here 150 boxes of two colors, red and blue - for organic waste and inorganic. The project does not just include different boxes - different sorts of garbage trucks are provided for each kind of boxes. The project is already seven years old, and little by little the residents begin to comply with the requirements and use the containers correctly."
But this is only a pilot project. Garbage coming to the plant from all over the city - the same one that collects garbage trucks under the Baku city executive authority department, is mixed - organic and inorganic. Despite the fact that attempts were periodically made to introduce sorting containers, this idea did not seem to succeed. In Icheri Sheher there are a number of exemplary containers for sorting various types of garbage - food debris, glass, cardboard, etc. It is clear that tourists and visitors to the city primarily go to the Old Town in search of attractions. For them, perhaps, separate containers are a matter of habit. But for our townspeople they are still as something of little importance. In addition, the problem of trash sorting cannot be solved at a time and only by containers. A whole range of activities is needed, including active educational work, and social projects.
Temiz Shahar has also a museum project "Tullantıdan sənətə" (From waste to art). It is located in the museum complex in the village of Gala. As E. Malikov said, artists from different countries are invited every year to create various kinds of installations. It is not only beautiful art objects, but you can truly witness that there is no limit to human imagination. Polyethylene bas-relief, a composition made of cigarette butts, mobile plastic bottles, and electric bulbs. You can count these installations and objects indefinitely.
Balakhany Industrial Park is also waiting for investments. All necessary conditions will be created for enterprises wishing to develop green business on its territory. Thus, the waste of one sphere of industry will be used as raw material for another, and as a result of the re-production, the economy of natural resources and energy will be achieved. So far, the park has managed to attract only five residents, who could invest ₼23.4 million and pledged to open 300 jobs. The expected investment in the park does not exceed 2.5% of the investments already made. But this is only the beginning.
The support of the "green" business by the government will lead to a rapid development of this sphere, which will contribute to a diversified economic growth, as well as reducing risks and negative impact on the environment and human health.