Estonia's election posters recycled as canvas bags, livestock shelters
Anyone residing in Estonia who went outside during the month of February, into early March, could hardly have failed to notice the preponderance of election campaign posters, which disappeared abruptly once polls closed at the Riigikogu election Sunday.
This was also the first time such placards remained in place right up to polling day; in 2019, the law was still such that outdoor electoral advertising was forbidden from around six weeks ahead of the election – the rule had already been dispensed with in time for the 2021 local elections.
"Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) investigated what happened to the posters once they had been taken down – were they discarded, donated, recycled, or did they even find a new lease of life to continue advertising a party or candidate going forward?
Kristo Enn Vaga, Reform Party campaign manager, said that the posters had gone to a variety of practical uses, including bags.
"These come a variety of sizes, from makeup bags to a laptop bags and even bigger, including ones which we use to carry our administrative things in," Vaga said.
The posters also have a use as they are.
"Our candidates or supporters have asked if they could get a couple of posters. They've also been used for cage covers; one big dog home wanted a lot of posters, as they make shelters for dogs with them," he went on.
A Valga County farmer also told AK that the posters could be used in farming, making shelters and the like, rather than being discarded in a landfill site.
Meanwhile, Eesti 200 told AK that their paper posters were already made of recycled paper, while their PVC posters will also be recycled. But what exactly the ad agency that produced them is doing with them is not known, however.
Board member Züleyxa "Zuzu" Izmailova said: "Our campaign this time was particularly frugal; even the materials from the previous Riigikogu elections and the items purchased for the local government elections were pressed into operation.
"We then got rid of everything. Campaigning could have an upper limit, in order to reduce the production of all this unnecessary material,"she added.
Andre Hanimägi, Center Party Secretary General, said that his party left it to the agency that put them up, but those who requested old posters – party members, candidates etc., would certainly be satisfied where possible.
Recycling or reusing them would not be so straightforward, however, he added.
"The party will certainly not deal with this; our goals lie elsewhere, to make policy," he told AK.
On a lighter note, the Reform Party had also distributed condoms, as a part of its campaigning (along with boxes of matches, reflectors and other smaller items, perhaps of more universal use).
What would happen to the prophylactics, however, Vaga was asked? By the 2027 Riigkogu election, they would likely have expired if not been used.
"Well, all the condoms were distributed. We hope that people will use them expediently," Vaga concluded.
The next elections in Estonia are to the European Parliament, in May 2024.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera