There is an urgent need to improve waste management practices across Armenia, with waste currently being dumped at uncontrolled dumpsites with unacceptable technical and environmental standards. Sustainable waste management is not just a technical issue about improving physical facilities and equipment but also something which must take into account a number of additional factors. These include: regulation, local planning, environmental impact, legal structuring, financial structuring, cost recovery and tariff reform and awareness raising. Historically, there has been a lack of strategic planning in the management of municipal solid waste.
Yerevan’s existing Nubarashen dumpsite, which is the largest one in Armenia and which has served the capital since the early 1960s, operates without adequate environmental protection measures and needs to be closed, rehabilitated and replaced with a new site. Under this project, which will see NIF resources combined with EBRD and EIB loans, a new sanitary landfill site will be built at a pre-selected area close to the existing dumpsite in Nubarashen. The existing dumpsite covers a vast area, serving a population of approximately one million and its closure and the full rehabilitation of this area will be a lengthy process.
The project structure envisages sovereign loans to Armenia being on-lent to the City of Yerevan for the benefit of a landfill management company owned by the Municipality of Yerevan. The company will receive capacity building support to establish efficient operations and enable knowledge transfer and the introduction of international best practices in the sector. The private sector is involved in that the collection of solid waste in Yerevan has been contracted to two private operators. These operators will be obliged to pay a tipping fee for deposited waste at the new landfill. Once the landfill operations have been established, the banks will support the city in assessing private sector interest in operating the landfill. While addressing the urgent investment needs under this project, an important aspect will also be to raise awareness about solid waste management issues such that the project serves as a pilot for sustainable waste management in Armenia. A further aim is to provide impetus for the implementation of the country’s new solid waste management strategy, which was adopted by the government in 2014 and which envisages building a total of six regional landfill to cover the whole country.
The whole population of Yerevan (one third of the country) will benefit from improved solid waste services as a result of the construction of the new sanitary landfill site. The project is also expected to have an environmental benefit in that it will lead to the reduction of around 3 000 tonnes of methane gas emissions, which is the equivalent of 60 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
The NIF contribution allows Yerevan to be able to benefit from bigger investments with increased environmental benefit whilst addressing affordability constraints. In fact, it is unlikely that the project could be undertaken without support from the EU and the European Financial Institutions.