Solid waste management in Azerbaijan – Balakhani Industrial Park
With the support of the World Bank, Azerbaijan completed the rehabilitation of the Balakhani landfill site turning it into the Balakhani Industrial park where waste is recycled.
Balakhani is one of the oldest settlements of Baku, situated on Absheron peninsula. The very first oilfield in Azerbaijan was discovered there,and at the time it was even filmed by French cinematographer Alexandre Michon in 1898.
At the times Balakhani was one of the most important industrial centers. However, as a result of a nearly 150 years of oil production the land was highly contaminated. Inefficient exploitation of the land led to the emergence of important environmental problems. Over the years Balakhani turned into a landfill site, the main dumpsite of Baku.
The Government addressed to the World Bank for the support in order to implement Absheron Rehabilitation Program, a programmatic series of Specific Investment Loans covering various sectors, with solid waste management being one of the primary ones. Tamiz Shahar a joint stock company (which means Clean city) – a new Solid Waste Management (SWM) company was created in order to execute SWM Strategic plan in Absheron Peninsula.
Balakhani Industrial park was established in 2011 with the decree of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. It was an important measure for the development of “green economy”. Establishment of the Park aimed to attract foreign investments and develop non-oil sector by increasing industrial production. In fact, the Industrial park consists of Solid Waste Sorting Plant, Waste to Power Plant and other enterprises.
First, municipal waste that is collected from waste containers is sorted out in the Solid Waste Sorting Plant, this because waste separation is not yet common among the citizens. However, in recent years several public campaigns on waste sorting have been realized which have had positive effects.
After appropriate separation and sorting, different kinds of waste can be recycled, such as plastic bottles, papers, metals and glass, and they are sent to relevant enterprises. Currently, there are 8 enterprises operating in the territory of Balakhani Industrial Park which are specialized in recycling the motor oils, waste plastic bottles, paper-cardboard products, waste plastic materials and sponge wastes among other . For example, plastic materials are used to produce plastic crates which consequently are used for storage of vegetables. Various products such as furniture, packages, cases are exported to countries like Georgia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Unites States of America.
On the other hand, waste which is not suitable for recycling is sent to the Waste to Energy Plant where waste is incinerated and the steam produces electricity. The Plant has the capacity to generate 230 million kWh of power from 500 000 tons of waste per year. This energy is used to cover internal energy needs of the Plant.
Interesting fact is that, collected waste is used not only for recycling but also for creating works of art. As an example, Waste to Art Museum unites the works of arts demonstrated during exhibitions organized every year. The exhibition brings together artists and sculptors from all over the world.
The rehabilitation of Balakhani landfill has improved waste management system, and most importantly it led to the prevention of health risks of the residents living nearby. It is the largest project by far, not only in Caucasus, but also in Central Asia.