Mayor of Ulaanbaatar S.Batbold says he has decided to focus on improving waste management, especially recycling, to resolve air and soil pollution in the capital.
Last Friday, he visited dumpsites, plastic, and paper recycling factories, and waste treatment facilities around Ulaanbaatar to review their status and to address the challenges faced by waste management companies and find ways to boost recycling.
UB TO CONSIDER INVESTMENT IN TIRE RECYCLING
The Mayor and his team visited Inarkhis Company in the 22nd khoroo of Bayanzurkh District. The company has been making paving and playground mats from recycled tires for the past eight years. Company president N.Munkhbayar told Mayor S.Batbold about some of the financial struggles the company is facing at the moment.
“Our company purchases scrap tires by personally going around to vehicle repair shops. Depending on the location, each tire costs 150 to 350 MNT. Two other tire recycling companies were opened, but they’ve been unable to operate sustainably due to sales-related problems. For example, companies that import rubber tiles from China are usually selected for tenders to build playgrounds. The main reason why is because they are cheaper. Regardless of quality, the company that offers the lowest price is selected,” he said.
According to N.Munkhbayar, Inarkhis Company gives customers a lifetime guarantee and replaces damaged playground surfacing systems free of charge.
“Damaged tiles are recycled once again, so I hope private companies and city authorities support domestic production instead of purchasing poor quality products from abroad,” he added.
Inarkhis Company says it is planning to expand their operations and open another factory near Gurvaljin Bridge. The new factory is expected to be four times more productive than its current facilities, but the company is facing financial problems and N.Munkhbayar has asked the Mayor’s Office for a soft loan of 700 million MNT.
The company used to export scrap steel and iron recovered during the tire recycling process to China but stopped four years ago because of a national ban on metal exportation.
Mayor S.Batbold recommended that Inarkhis Company starts a metal recycling business, but also promised to consider the request for a loan.
RECYCLABLE WASTE PICKERS COMPLAIN ABOUT FINES
The Mayor then visited the home of B.Gantulga, who sorts recyclable waste in his backyard and sells what he collects to recycling factories.
He asked for the Mayor’s help in purchasing land outside of a residential area, as many of his neighbors complain about the odor and appearance of the waste he accumulates. He also complained about fines he has been imposed with while transporting material for recycling.
“I only get 50,000 MNT from selling a truckload of plastic bottles to a plastic recycling plant. Plastic bottles are lighter than they look, but traffic police officers often stop my truck and charge me a penalty for exceeding city transport weight limits. I spend most of my profit on paying off these penalties,” B.Gantulga said.
HOME WASTE SORTING TO BEGIN BY 2020
On March 31, Mayor S.Batbold visited the Tsagaan Davaa dumpsite, one of the three largest dumpsites in Ulaanbaatar. Ulaanbaatar residents generate approximately 300,000 tons of collected waste per day, and according to officials, the Tsagaan Davaa dumpsite receives 100,000 tons of that daily waste. Authorities of the dumpsite noted that they will continue to dispose of waste through burial until 2020 and begin operating a recycling factory after that.
“First of all, we must encourage everyone to sort their waste,” said B.Byambadorj, the head of City Maintenance and Landscaping Agency. Most of the machinery used to bury waste has been damaged, causing various problems. Authorities asked for financial assistance to procure new equipment.
Mayor S.Batbold underlined that he would pay more attention to making households sort their waste over the next three years.
Head of the Environment and Natural Resources Management Department at the Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism (MEGDT) G.Nyamdavaa noted, “Developed countries are avoiding the use of landfills and focusing on recycling. Our country will take the same approach soon. We must change the legal system to ensure that people start sorting waste. Fifty-nine percent of the waste from Ulaanbaatar comes from construction sites. It’s hard to recycle if the household waste is mixed with construction waste. Parliament has approved the Law on Household and Industrial Waste. However, the MEGDT is working to have amendments to the law approved during the upcoming spring session.”
The ministry’s amendments would provide guidelines for the transportation and disposal of waste materials. G.Nyamdavaa added that the MEGDT, Ulaanbaatar Mayor’s Office, and province governor’s offices are discussing solutions for the disposal of hazardous waste.
DOMESTIC PRODUCERS REQUEST SUPPORT
Mayor S.Batbold visited Khev Khashmal Khuvantsar LLC, a plastic recycling company founded in 2014 that produces armature and spacers from recycled materials. The factory also produces plastic cups, packaging, and other items from plastic imported from South Korea.
“According to our research, Mongolia imports over 140 million plastic products. Our factory is capable of producing around 70 million products a year. Our standard for products has been certified by the Mongolian Agency for Standardization and Metrology. We’d like to make it a national standard,” said E.Khurelbat, president of Khev Khashmal Khuvantsar LLC. He asked the Mayor to support their sales through policy.
The paper recycling company Sain Tsaas LLC also requested the Mayor’s cooperation in collecting paper waste, as it’s hard to collect material from the entire city due to the lack of a centralized paper collection center.
After visiting the recycling companies, Mayor S.Batbold said he would prioritize waste sorting problems for better waste management.
“For a large city with a population of more than 1.3 million people, the transportation and management of waste materials are very important. This matter is directly linked to people’s right to live in a safe and healthy environment. To this day, Ulaanbaatar hasn’t launched a proper waste management system. The first thing we’ll concentrate on is waste sorting. We must at least stop mixing household and industrial waste together. We will put this into motion soon. We will start processing biological waste and produce gas and fertilizers by 2020, in line with global trends,” he stated.
The Mayor hopes to introduce industrial methods to burn construction waste for energy.
In response to the complaints from private recycling companies, Mayor S.Batbold said that he plans to open a collection center for plastic, glass, and paper waste, in partnership with NGOs.
He added, “There’s no accountability system for companies that make products with glass packaging that can’t be recycled, so my office will work with the government to raise the ecological tax.”