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Kazakh scientists find way to mitigate eco damage of bureaucracy

28 july 2014, 18:20
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Photo courtesy of orgprint.com
Photo courtesy of orgprint.com

It is hard to imagine the volumes of paper that go through government agencies in Kazakhstan. Is there a single institution that does not require copies, copies of copies, exemplars, drafts, reports, instructions and other products of well-oiled bureaucracy?

Whether all this is efficient is not the issue in question here, though excessive paperwork of Kazakhstani officials has been repeatedly pointed out by President Nazarbayev and PM Massimov even managed to get all the officials to use tablet computers to cut the mass of printed papers.

In January 2012 the President of Kazakhstan said that the Presidential Office alone was sending and receiving over 30 thousand reports a year. "The officials spend all their time doing paper work instead of solving problems of the population," he said and called to "sort out all the mess”.

In November the same year, seeing no progress, the President slammed the officials once again:  “How can we talk about the quality of services like education if a teacher spends a third of his or her time making reports? The same goes for doctors. (...) When can they do their real work? Tons of reports! Sort it out finally!” he said.

Almost two years later it is still unclear whether the problem has been dealt with. However, some environmental aspects of the "tons" of paper may finally become manageable. Nazarbayev University scientists have developed a method of restoring and cleaning office paper. Should the new method be introduced into industrial production, ministries, schools and offices will be able to reuse paper for writing and printing.

The project was presented to the Minister of Education and Science Aslan Sarinzhipov during the opening of the Technopark of the Nazarbayev University on July 18.

Dias Tastanbekov, one of the scientists at the Research Institute of the Nazarbayev University, shared some details of the new project with Tengrinews:

"The method does not employ any nanotechnologies or anything of that sort. It is a quite simple chemicophysical method. Its main advantage is that it can be set up in the buildings that use up a lot of paper. Business centers, ministries and educational institutions use a lot of paper and scrap paper, and even print on the reverse side. To cut the collection, transportation and recycling expenses, we propose to clean the paper and then reuse it,” he said.

A paper cleaning facility can be built right next to a ministry or a university, because it does not take up much space, a regular garage is enough, he explained.

Tastanbekov emphasised that the proposed method did not downgrade the quality of paper, as opposed to the traditional recycling methods that transformed used high-quality paper into toilet paper or cardboard. "It makes writing paper from writing paper," he said about the new method.

"The method has two options: organic solvent in combination with ultrasound and inorganic solvent like carbon dioxide gas,” the young scientist specified.

According to Tastanbekov, Kazakhstan imports 100% of its paper. And the new method could decrease the need for import. In addition, it has ecological benefits: “Paper recycling is not entirely environmentally friendly because it involves use of different acids, chemicals, that have to be disposed of. As for the chemicals that we use to clean the paper, we don't have to dispose of them, we can reuse them,” he said.

The scientists are now planning to patent the method. If all goes well, Kazakhstan may soon start taking care of the environmental impact of the bureaucracy. 

Reporting by Renat Tashkinbayev, writing by Dinara Urazova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina


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