December marked a vital leap forward in the promotion of Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) among Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Azerbaijan. Concretely, two virtual events caught the interest of businesses and industries in the first quarter of the month: the introduction seminar on RECP (held on 10 December), and the first training for RECP Experts (held on 14 December).
The purpose of the introduction seminar was to ensure the wider application of RECP in the country, where the local market of service providers can be created and developed (including with sufficient local capacities and skills). The online event granted a foundation for the introduction of the RECP methodology and the prospects of starting the training on its application to selected demonstration companies, enterprises members of the RECP Clubs, and energy and environmental professionals. Having the clear goal to inform and engage SMEs in the adoption of RECP, the event gathered over 90 participants (many of which were business owners, entrepreneurs, engineers, environmental specialists, as well as members of academia and the civil society, NGOs, and Government officials).
I am impressed with the number of participants as this shows that there is a recognition and interest in the potential of RECP. This is a very important appeal and integral part of the Circular Economy strategy which the European Union has launched in 2020 along with an extra action plan that focuses on the entire life cycle of products (starting already with how products are designed, their specific provisions that ensure their longevity, and also a high content of recyclable materials to encourage sustainable consumption). One example is the Eco-label covering around 70,000 products. In Azerbaijan, we are of course not only helping the SMEs sector with initiatives like this, but also by supporting them through a range of similar capacity building initiatives and through the promotion of credit lines said Mr. Rainer Freund, Programme Manager, European Union Delegation to Azerbaijan.
Overall, the seminar introduced methods on how to develop practical in-plant assessment reports for RECP projects. The participants first learned what RECP is and how to use it to assess the efficiency of production processes and identify opportunity areas. Examples then followed with several good RECP practices in energy efficiency, water, and material management. Last but not least, the RECP training and RECP Clubs in Baku and Ganja were presented.
To ensure environmental protection is equally important as adopting best practises for businesses and enterprises. This is why informing experts is significant as in this modern age, resources are scarce and access to raw materials and resources is limited. By investing in RECP, enterprises will gain benefits and generate additional income. Environmental Protection is also one of the key tasks of the Government (as set in the national priorities document which has been approved by the President). One of our top priorities is exactly related to environmental protection and the promotion of clean energy and conservation of resources. Hopefully, this will be a strong ingredient in our common activities and will help enterprises make the best out of the newly learned practises, said Mr. Faig Mutallimov, Head of Subdivision of Regulation of Usage of Water Resources, Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources
Background Currently, one of the most important approaches to improving the production and environmental activities of enterprises is the introduction of Resource-Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP). This approach is based on an ongoing assessment of the potential for saving resources, energy, and materials to prevent overspending, reduce emissions and discharges of pollutants into the environment, and to reduce waste generation, which will, above all, contribute to reducing the economic costs of enterprises.
RECP is used as an umbrella term for the application of preventive environmental strategies to achieve the triple aims of production efficiency, environmental management and human development. The RECP programme builds the national capacity, fosters dialogue between industry and government, and facilitates investments for the transfer and adaptation of Environmentally Sound Technologies. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has developed the RECP methodology, which is used by specialists of enterprises and experts in the field of environmental management to identify sources of losses from all types of resources, identify the root causes of such losses, and develop and assess the feasibility of activities aimed at reducing or completely eliminating the identified losses.