REDUCTION OF WASTE PRODUCTION AND IMPROVEMENT OF WASTE MANAGEMENT
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT OUR PROJECT
Ecosoum started working on waste management issues since its creation end of 2018. Since mid-2020, our activities are now part of a larger 4-years program called "Sustainable Plastic Recycling in Mongolia" (SPRIM), in partnership with four other organisations.
Within this broader framework, Ecosoum’s main objective remains to set up an efficient and sustainable waste management system in Khishig-Undur, by promoting waste reducing, sorting, reusing and recycling, aiming at zero ultimate waste on the scale of the soum.
Our project is divided into 3 main goals:
1. to raise awareness among the population and local institutions and to provide everyone with proper equipment so that waste sorting at source can be properly implemented.
2. to set up a proper waste management facility in which all sorted waste will be processed, either through local channels or via urban recyclers and companies of origin (for reusing).
3. to produce data and lead communication campaigns calling companies to reduce the amount of waste they produce with the goods they sell (through packaging or single-use items).
MAIN DONORS AND PARTNERS
Our first activities were carried out thanks to the support of individual donations, The Asia Foundation and the local administration of Khishig-Undur soum.
Since our activities are part of the SRPRIM project, our main donor has been the SWITCH-Asia II programme of the European Union, with co-fundings from the embassy of the Czech Republic in Mongolia, and public administrations of Bulgan province and Khishig-Undur soum.
Our main implementing partners are Caritas Czech Republic, Environment and Security Center of Mongolia, Mongolian Sustainable Development Bridge and Water Research Institute.
MAIN ACTIVITIES CARRIED OUT
AWARENESS-RAISING OF THE POPULATION AND LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
From the beginning of the project, our first activities have been focused on raising the awareness of the population and staff of local institutions (administration, school, kindergarten and hospital). We summarised the most important information about waste management on a dedicated page of our website, but we are convinced that ongoing discussion with everyone is necessary for all to keep improving. That is why we keep organizing frequent awareness-raising and training events.
PRODUCTION OF AWARENESS-RAISING MATERIAL
To support our awareness-raising activities, we produced a wide range of material about the waste issue in general and waste management in Khishig-Undur. In addition to the dedicated page on our website, we created training contents and we designed, printed and distributed practical guidebooks on how to sort waste at home. We released a video tutorial to demonstrate how our team is doing at home, as well as an interview that summarizes the key points of our Zero Waste and Circular Economy report. Last but not least, we subtitled and dubbed existing videos from The Story of Stuff Project, including the 90-minutes long documentary entitled The Story of Plastic. All this material is available on this website.
RESEARCH STUDIES AND RECOMMENDATION REPORTS
In order to be able to design and set up a relevant waste management system in Khishig-Undur, we have been conducting several studies and produced detailed analysis reports, which included both quantitative measuring and extensive interviews of local stakeholders. We also published recommendation reports both for waste management scheme in Khishig-Undur and for tackling the waste crisis at national level. All our reports are available on our website.
ADVOCACY AND SUPPORT TO LOCAL AUTHORITIES
Our advocacy work with the soum authorities to encourage them to take more action towards better waste management has gradually evolved into true collaboration as mutual trust was built up. Ecosoum is now involved in all authorities' discussions and decisions regarding waste management and we do our best to support them in all aspects of the issue.
WASTE PICKING AND CLEANING EVENTS
Ecosoum wants to clean and restore all areas impacted by waste, including by greatly reducing the soum’s old open dumpsite. We frequently organize or support waste picking and cleaning events in order to progressively get closer to our waste-free soum goal.
PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION OF WASTE SORTING EQUIPMENT
As we encourage people and institutions to sort their waste, we believe it is essential to provide everyone with suitable equipment to ease the process and facilitate changes of habits. We have been manufacturing hundreds of metal recyclable waste sorting bins that have been distributed to most households in the village. We also help public institutions to organise waste sorting within their premises.
REPLACEMENT OF SINGLE-USE PLASTIC ITEMS BY REUSABLE ONES
Since reducing the production of waste is actually much better than just recycling it, we strive to promote a transition from single-use disposable items to reusable ones. The first step taken by the association was to replace the single-use plastic shoe-covers which were used in the hospital and kindergarten to avoid dirtying buildings by reusable ones made out of fabric. Similar changes will be encouraged whenever relevant and possible.
CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION OF A WASTE MANAGEMENT FACILITY
We constructed a brand-new waste management facility for Khishig-Undur soum. We now use this facility to collect and sort the waste produced in the soum before to either recycle it locally or send it to Ulaanbaatar for reusing or recycling. Our ultimate goal is that all the waste that is produced in the soum is properly processed through this facility so that no more waste is disposed in the dumpsite or littered in the environment.
MANUFACTURE AND ACQUISITION OF WASTE MANAGEMENT AND RECYCLING MACHINES
We manufactured some plastic recycling machines and purchased additional machines that we needed to recycled as much waste as possible locally. First recycling tests were carried out and will be further experimented until we manage to produce good quality useful products that are to be distributed among the local population. We also acquired a medical autoclave that was handed over to the local hospital so that hazardous medical waste can be processed safely.
PROPER LANDFILL MANAGEMENT
As Khishig-Undur’s dumpsite was extremely wide and messy, we recommended to reduce its size by regrouping and piling all waste on a much smaller area. In a second phase, it was decided to definitively close the old dumpsite and create an adequate landfill. We designed the new site, oversaw all operations, and are now in charge of operating the landfill along with all other aspects of waste management in Khishig-Undur.
PRODUCTION OF A REPLICATION KIT
As our goal was always to carry out a “pilot” project to make Khishig-Undur a “model” that could inspire other soums, we developed a guidebook for soum administrations and CSOs to learn from our experience and replicate our accomplishments more easily. This guidebook was included in a replication kit that also comprised all the relevant material we produced over the years, so as to bring as much information and examples as possible to those who want to improve waste management in their soums.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND SUPPORT TO OTHER SOUMS
In addition to our activities in Khishig-Undur, we’ve also been trying to actively support other soums. We produced a detailed recommendation report for Bulgan soum, the capital of our province, and try to help the public administration to implement this new waste management scheme. In parallel, we started travelling to other soums, within our province and in other regions, to replicate our actions wherever motivated people call for our support.
ADVOCACY FOR NATIONAL POLICY CHANGES AND INTERNATIONAL TREATY
On top of all our actions at the local level, we are actively advocating at the national level for adequate policy changes, with a strong emphasis put on Extended Producer Responsibility: companies that produce or market products and packaging that constitute most of our waste should be held accountable for it. We are also supporting the international negotiations for a legally binding treaty addressing the full life cycle of plastics, from production to disposal.