In December 2013 our Russian factory proudly gained its 0-landfill status. It’s been a long, intense, and hard journey because landfill is the usual way to eliminate waste in Russia. I can hardly claim such a high level of achievement in my everyday life in Moscow…
Despite a nearly $2 billion state recycling initiative and burgeoning environmental movement, the vast majority of waste produced by Moscow’s 12 million residents – alternative sources even suggest 20 million residents – still goes straight to overfilling landfills outside of the city.Only 4 to 5 percent of all domestic waste in Moscow is now recycled, according to data from environmental group Greenpeace Russia.
This is the same percentage as in 2012 — despite an experimental recycling project launched by Moscow City Hall that year that has swallowed up 95 billion rubles ($1.7 billion) in state investment. You can see another misuse of the national wealth – see my past posts. The experiment did not fail because Muscovites were unwilling to participate, It rather failed because the state failed to offer effective waste management schemes.There are three waste incineration plants in the city, each of which burn an average of 700,000 tons of garbage per year. Seen from another angle, it represents 4 tons of waste burnt every second in the incinerations plants of the city…Anyway, all the rest — or 80 percent of Moscow’s garbage — accumulates in landfills outside the city, according to Greenpeace.After decades of use, these landfills are now filled to the brim. Ninety percent of the 40 dumps in the Moscow region are filled beyond capacity and on the brink of closure (Razdelny Sbor).
Then the Kremlin steps in…and it gets a bit more confused !
As Moscow’s trash problem escalates, the city government has finally recognized the need for better waste management. In 2012, it launched an experimental program dedicated to developing separate collection of trash and recyclables in the Russian capital. Companies were selected via a tender to perform waste management in the city’s nine districts, with the total amount of the 15-year contracts exceeding 95 billion rubles ($1.7 billion), according to Greenpeace estimates.
Under the terms of the contracts, recyclable materials are to be collected at stationary and mobile collection stations. By the end of last year, 134 collection stations for recycling and 3,500 receptacles for glass were supposed to have been set up in five Moscow districts, the report said.
But an inspection conducted in May by Greenpeace members and volunteers revealed a series of major violations. Of the 141 collection stations checked by Greenpeace, 32 didn’t exist at all and 23 didn’t operate during the hours they were supposed to, according to the report.
Environmental groups conduct garbage collection and recycling every weekend across Moscow, usually collecting about 9 tons of recyclable material a month (Sdelayem!). On the city scale, these initiatives’ contribution is just a drop in the sea, but they help to create a culture of environmental concern that activists hope will one day push the city to genuine reform.
Lead by example, and be patient…