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Waste management in the agricultural sector

What kind of waste does the agro-sector produce? 

About two-thirds of the total waste generated in developed countries fall to the agricultural sector and the recycling industry.  This category of waste implies the materials generated as a result of various agricultural activities requiring the destruction or further recycling. 

It is known that there are produced two main categories in the agricultural sector – plant and livestock waste. The waste generated in the field of plants includes crop waste residues, straw, stubble, leaves, surplus-silos of biomass; In the agricultural sector, crop waste is generated from inedible biomass left after the harvest of crops, potatoes, vegetables, and horticulture. As for animal waste, they are mainly generated in the form of manure, as a result of animal bedding, slaughter, and meat processing.

Most of the waste generated in the agricultural sector includes expired plant protection products (pesticides or fertilizers), special polyethylene bags used for greenhouse roofing, drip irrigation system pipes, old tires used in agriculture, and parts of various equipment, as well as employees’ household waste.  Sludge and wastewater from agricultural fields contaminated with fertilizers and pesticides also belong to the agricultural waste category. 

What are the best agricultural practices to be used for waste reduction? 

  – Conformity with the dosage, terms, and rules of use for plant protection products;

  – Use of biological methods for plant protection against pests and diseases;

  – Replacement of herbicides and pesticides with biostimulants;

  – Implementation of integrated methods for soil erosion protection: the creation of buffer zones by row cultivation of perennial crops, the introduction of drought and wind-resistant new hybrid crops;

  – Introduction of manure management: collection, processing, storage and application with the use of the manure tanks; 

  – Obtaining biogas from manure waste and use of biomass obtained as a result of its production as a fertilizer; 

  – Integrated management of pastures: observance of calendar terms for grazing, observance of the principle of plot rotation, planned use of pastures;

  – Proper management of livestock bio-waste: utilization of bio-waste, neutralization of bio-waste, burning of infected bio-  waste.

What are the challenges in terms of waste reduction and recycling?

  • Most of the waste generated in Georgia (approximately 99.7%) is not recycled and is disposed of in landfills;
  •  Waste collection services do not include rural settlements. Residents are forced to select the location on their own and dispose of the waste that leads to the natural landfills;
  • There is no proper separation system – all types of waste are disposed of in municipal landfills;
  •  Poor waste separation practices and scarcity of waste recovery facilities;
  • Lack/absence of incentive mechanisms to improve reuse, recycling, and waste recovery; 
  •  Insufficient level of awareness of stakeholders and the public involved in the field of waste management.

Which legislation regulates waste management and what does it oblige farmers to do?

In order to create a legal basis in the field of waste management in Georgia, within the framework of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) between Georgia and the European Union, the ,,Waste Management Code“ was adopted on December 26, 2014,  and entered into force in January 2015. The adopted code is based on the obligations and regulations stipulated in the Association Agreement between Georgia and the EU, as well as international best practices.

Who is liable to ensure a waste management plan and what should it include?

A natural or legal person whose activity generates more than 200 tons of non-hazardous waste or 120 kg of hazardous waste during the year is obliged to develop a waste management plan, which should mainly include:

A) information on generated waste (in particular, data on their origin, types, composition, and quantity of waste specified in the waste list);

B) information especially on –  preventing hazardous waste generation and measures to be taken for waste recovery;

C) a description of the method of separation of the generated waste, in particular, the method of separation of hazardous waste from other wastes;

D) methods and conditions of temporary storage of waste;

E) methods used for waste processing and/or information about the person to whom the waste will be transferred for further processing. 

The waste management plan will be submitted to the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia. The document is updated every 3 years or in case of significant alterations in the type, quantity, and process of waste generated.

To whom a farmer can refer in terms of the recycling of separately collected waste?