ASTANA – Almaty residents now have their own recycling guide. The Tazalyk app, developed and created by three university students, has a map showing the location of containers for paper, plastic, electronics, glass and medical products waste. The main feature is a rating system that counts how many kilogrammes of recyclables each user submits and calculates its savings.
The company also has eco-containers for separate collection of paper and plastic. Kazakhstan Waste Recycling, one of the largest local companies for collecting and sorting waste paper, is the project’s key partner.
More than 900 people have downloaded the app and 70-80 use it on a daily basis. “Small business, big goals” is a good motto for ambitious entrepreneurs aiming towards a sustainable society.
“We work closely with the waste processing plants. There are no plants accepting all types of waste. Now, we have found some small enterprises that resell the collected waste to larger companies in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries. People do not trust separate waste collection, because they faced some negative experiences. Once, collection points were installed around the city, but all wastes were mixed and exported to a landfill,” said NS Labs founder Aibek Rakhim.
“We were always wondering why waste recycling is not widespread and why there’s a shortage of companies involved in recycling. After an analysis, we saw that the plants are constructed, but the process of separate collection is not yet well established across the country. If there is a separate collection, the quality for recycling remains. We found that there are no conditions for separate collection,” he added.
The app shows the location of waste collection points for a variety of items.
“We all are currently focusing on the Tazalyk project. It was developed on iOS and Android platforms in September last year. Almaty residents receive bonuses and can exchange them for a ticket to a cinema or the Medeo Ice Rink for the return of recyclables to reception points,” he noted.
An IT specialist, Rakhim, 21, has been involved in ecological issues for three years. Co-founders Yersultan Nalikhan and Yelnur Zheksenov are also studying at International IT University.
“It is important that at least 20-30 people will be socially responsible and comprehend the significance of a separate collection. When they see their contribution, they receive a bonus and motivation and eventually the ratio of such people will grow. That is why we launched this application. Our team strives to use its knowledge in the field of ecology,” he said.
The developers started the project using their personal savings. The company recently won third place at the Zhas Kasipker competition organised by the Almaty akimat (city administration), Kazakhstan Foundation for Management Development and Almaty Management University.
“We are in need of investments. But, first, we need to prove ourselves as an established entrepreneur in the market. Our university provides us with all conditions for engaging in our projects on the basis of an IITU Innovation incubator. Beibit Amirgaliyev, head of the centre who has extensive experience, assists us in promoting the project. We really appreciate this support,” said Rakhim.
The developers are currently collaborating with 10 organisations in Almaty. The number of companies is expanding.
“We have gotten requests to start the project in Astana, Aktau and Karaganda. We plan to increase the number of partners this year. We aim to popularise separate collection. We meet with organisations responsible for landfill operations and promote separate collection. We also teach young people about the benefits of separate waste collection. We must strive for the well-functioning waste management system developed in Germany,” he said.