According to Belarusian tradition, Father Frost (also known as Dzyed Maróz or Santa Claus) lives in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, part of the immense primaeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain.
It is hardly surprising then that Belarus’s largest manufacturer of high quality children’s plastic toys and games is based a few miles away.
Polesie is a toy manufacturer located in the small town of Kobrin, famous for its cheese, and now also its toys.
“The company was established in 1998 by a small team of enthusiasts who decided to make their first toy," said Natalia Tarasjuk, who works for Polesie's international sales department.
“They started their business with a multi-coloured pyramid for toddlers made on a mechanical moulding machine.”
Two decades later, the company employs 20 percent of the city’s inhabitants - more than 3,000 people.
“From one machine to 130; from a tiny room to a 60,000 square meter facility; from three employees to 3,000… The company has become the living heart of the city!” said Ms Tarasjuk.
The factory handles the entire production cycle, from each concept’s inception to the transport of the finalised toys.
The process starts in the imagination of the graphic designers and engineers that work hand in hand to create the models, which are then inserted in one of the 100 injection moulding machines located in the production plant.
The resulting pieces are then meticulously assembled and tested before heading out into the big wide world in one of the 18 trucks which leave the plant every day.
The toys are exported to more than 60 countries , including Russia, Italy, Australia and Japan.
Thanks to the forest that occupies 40 per cent of its territory, Belarus is usually referred to as the “lungs of Europe”, symbolised by the green strip in the Belarusian flag.
And Polesie is going green too.
The company has become the first Belarusian business to join the EBRD’s Finance and Technology Transfer Centre for Climate Change (FINTECC) programme, supported by the Global Environment Facility.
Finance available through FINTECC has helped Polesie install energy efficient technology that is new to the Belarusian manufacturing sector.
A combined cooling heat and power plant (CCHP plant) allows the factory to efficiently generate its own heat, electricity and cooling power needed in its production plant.
The new technologies are expected to generate electricity savings of around 3,000 MWh and gas savings of 24,100 MWh per year. It will also reduce CO2 emission by 7,500 tonnes per year, the equivalent of the average annual emissions of more than 2,200 households.
The EBRD’s FINTECC programme helps companies implement advanced climate technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase climate resilience by providing grants and technical assistance.
It provides businesses not only with finance but also the necessary knowhow to invest in climate technologies to save energy, water and materials.
At the same time, it supports policymakers in building the right environment for such investments to thrive long term.
In total, FINTECC’s work has helped to save annual CO2 emissions of some 175,000 tonnes, equivalent to taking 37,000 cars off the road for one year, while total water savings amount to 1.6 million cubic metres and materials savings to 10,400 tonnes.
This story was originally published by EBRD.