Waste plastic desecrates many rural areas in Kosovo. In urban areas burning of waste plastic creates toxic fumes. Although plastic recycling plants exist in Kosovo, there is no organized collection of waste plastic and the general public disposes of it haphazardly. On 27th September, USAID’s Basic Education Program organized a round table conference on recycling, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, MEST and the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning. This event followed an exhibition of students’ projects on plastic bottle recycling organized by the Basic Education Program in June.
Central to the conference was a device for crushing plastic bottles which reduces waste by up to 80% and enables schools and other organizations to process and store recyclable plastic for collection by recycling companies. Students from Ilyria Primary School, Pristina, demonstrated the device and participants were also able to try their hand at bottle crushing.
Representatives, from schools, municipalities, the two ministries and environmental NGOs agreed that developing a system of recycling using schools as collection points was feasible.
- It made economic sense, in that schools could raise income and recycling companies could increase the amount they process (and therefore their profit).
- It would reduce the amount of waste going into landfill and reduce the waste plastic found littering the countryside.
- Most importantly it would develop awareness of environmental issues and good habits in students.
Bajram Kadriu, Head of Education and Awareness at the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning remarked “A very practical, action-based conference… it is the first time that I participated in a conference that is very hands-on, not only presenting ideas, but working in groups to find the solution right there and then, to establish a system that works!”
The practical results from the conference include:
- Municipalities supporting “Green Clubs” in schools which organize collection and crushing of plastic bottles;
- Contracts between schools and a recycling company to collect the waste;
- Publicity campaigns by the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning and USAID’s Basic Education Program to encourage recycling.
TV journalists and cameras attended the conference and two national TV stations, Klan Kosova and KTV, transmitted news broadcasts about the event.