Smart Packaging Waste Management

This story is part of the Initiative between Association Konekt and AmCham within the USAID’s Partnership for Giving Project, and is recognized as one of the Best Practices for Corporate Philanthropy.


Pakomak is the oldest and largest PRO in terms of producers registered with their scheme and total packaging waste put on the market (approx. 42%). Pakomak is the only PRO that has consistently met the set national targets since the organization was established. The company is obliged to establish cooperation with local authorities for separate collection system by investing in bins, containers, collection points, trucks, recycling capacities and sharing/financing the costs for collection and transport. It is also obliged to increase public awareness among citizens about the necessity and benefits of separate collection and recycling. Activities of PROs are fully financed by fees paid by the registered producers (industry).   

This Practice as a game-changer 

Pakomak in the last several years already has placed 1370 Igloo containers for separate packaging waste collection on the national level. The problems that Pakomak is facing every day, by collection of packaging waste from Igloo containers, is due to non-precise information that we have in real time about their fullness with packaging waste on the one hand and on the other hand their positioning (location) in the municipalities across the country. The frequency of these problems is increasing daily with the increase of the number of placed containers on the entire territory of the Republic of North Macedonia. It often happens that specialized vehicles for emptying these containers visit containers that are partly full with packaging waste (they are half empty) or due to human error they do not visit some containers at all. As a result of this, we are facing with dissatisfied and discouraged citizens for the selection of packaging waste. in the Republic of North Macedonia 110.000 tons of packaging waste annually is generated, out of which approximately 31.900 tons is plastic (29%), 46.200 tons is paper (42%), 17.600 tons is glass (16%), 4.400 tons are aluminum and other fero-metal (4%) and 9.900 tons are composite and wood (9%). Approximately more than 65.000 tons packaging waste on annual base are generated by households and should be collected in Igloo containers for separate collection of: plastic, metal, glass and paper, and in reverse vending machines for separate collection of: PET bottles and aluminum cans.

The Transformative Journey

To motivate citizens who are not using Igloo containers for packaging waste collection, and to prevent littering Pakomak has developed SMART SYSTEM WITH RVM, where plastic PET bottles and aluminium cans can be exchanged against “Green Points” that are accredited to a user account accessed via smart phone application. These green points can be used to purchase goods or services from retailers and municipalities.

As an additional opportunity to include Pakomak in the corporate philanthropy, for citizens who recycle in return vending machines, we also provided them with an additional option to donate funds to SOS children’s village, which are paid by Pakomak. Citizens who recycle in the return vending machines have the opportunity to donate to SOS children’s village vouchers of 10 denars, 50 denars, 100 denars and 200 denars. The entire amount donated by users through the Ecomak application is paid by Pakomak to SOS children’s village as a donation . In this way, Pakomak applies philanthropy as a practice in operations. With Ecomak application and digital technology, Pakomak has an overview of the value of the vouchers and the number of users who have chosen to donate funds to SOS children’s village.

The plan of the company is in the next four years to place all over the country reverse vending machines to be available for each citizen. Implementing this system in parallel with Igloo containers will improve collection of the packaging waste and decrease littering and pollution of our environment on one side and on the other side will create new jobs.

Paving the Road towards Success

Pakomak currently has installed 28 vending machines in markets and in the future it is planned to install 20-30 new vending machines per year that will be available to all citizens. Since the beginning of enabling the option of the Ecomak application for donating green points in SOS children’s village, 13,390 denарs was donated from 161 users. The network of users of the ECOMAK application increases by 300 users per week. At the moment Ecomak application is used by 15 236 users. Long-term planning will provide more opportunities for donating green points, such as in kindergartens, municipalities, health centers in order to encourage citizens to philanthropy as a part of life habits.

Objectives’ Achievement

Overall objective: Improved living conditions through smart, digitally traceable and transparent packaging waste management.

Outcome 1: Increased effectiveness, efficiency and transparency of packaging waste management system operated by Pakomak.

Outcome 2: More citizens and Municipalities engaged in recycling by making use of the smart packaging waste infrastructure.
Impact hypothesis: If the packaging waste management system is enhanced through the use of digital technologies and if awareness for the importance of separation and recycling of generated packaging waste amongst citizens and in particular youth is fostered, then more PW is collected in a more efficient manner, leading to less recyclable material ending up in landfills or in the nature and primary resources are conserved which contributes to better living conditions of the citizens.
Increasing the effectiveness and efficiency will directly increase the collected quantities of packaging waste and decrease the quantities of packaging waste that would end up in a landfill.
Communication and the continuous presence of smart infrastructure will educate all citizens to take care of their environment and also to transfer the knowledge to the younger generations. Implementation of new smart system for packaging waste management will result with less waste disposed on land field, less air pollution and more satisfied citizens.

Further Action

In order to encourage citizens to donate green points for SOS children’s village, social networks were of great help to us. With advertising on social networks, we reached the number of users of the Ecomak application of about 15,000 users. This is a way to change people’s habits on philanthropy, environmental awareness and selection of packaging waste for a clean and healthy environment. Digital communication is becoming a part of our everyday life. Pakomak is adapting to it with the introduction of the Smart Waste system, especially among the young population, where habits are now being created to have a better and higher quality life in the future.

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