GGGI Laos established a Waste Recycling Bank in local schools of Vientiane, Lao PDR

Vientiane, Lao PDR, June 23-26, 2020 – Funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), GGGI Laos in collaboration with Vientiane City Office for Management and Service (VCOMS) and Department of Education and Sport (DES) has set up a “Waste Recycling Bank” in ten local schools in Vientiane, Lao PDR.

The project aims to increase the city’s waste recycling rate by establishing decentralized waste collection points in ten local schools in the Sikhottabong district of Vientiane. Students were given saving books which will be used to record points obtained from recycling. The pilot initiative carried out with educational activities to demonstrate the operation of the waste recycling bank and interactive games aims to increase awareness of source separation.

In Vientiane, the recycling rate remains only at 10%. Among others, glass bottles are barely recycled due to low market price. The objective of the project is to strengthen the value chain of glass bottles life cycle by connecting the waste generators and the local recycling companies and thus recover used glass bottles at the upstream side of the value chain. The initiative makes it possible for participating schools to generate revenue from selling the recyclables to local recycling companies. The financial resources will be used to buy necessary amenities for the school as well as a small prize to the winning students who save the highest points in their waste recycling saving accounts.

“We aim to minimize waste disposal at the landfill through an adoption of source separation and promoting waste recycling. We appreciate the support from GGGI and KOICA to pilot this project. We will ensure the sustainability of the project so it can be scaled up throughout the whole of Vientiane”, said Mr. Bounchanh Keosithamma, Director General of VCOMS.

Explaining the project’s rationale, Ms. Shomi Kim, a Senior Green Cities Analyst of GGGI said, “In Vientiane, people’s awareness and enthusiasm for environmental issues are fairly high while recycling facilities provided by the municipality is lacking. Through the waste recycling bank, we are keen on providing the facilities to collect recyclable materials from source and strengthen the local value chain to maximize opportunities for both recycling and upcycling. We also aim to connect informal waste pickers and micro recycling enterprises to the waste recycling banks so it may increase income generation opportunities for them.”

The waste recycling bank will be open to the community for accessing decentralized waste collection points with the view to inspire behavior changes at the community level.

It is expected that around 30 tons of recyclable materials will be recovered annually from the pilot initiative, which can be further scaled up to establish 100 waste banks in Vientiane, Lao PDR.