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The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges American Lessons - Proceedings of a Workshop PROBLEMS OF WASTE MANAGEMENT IN THE MOSCOW REGION A.G.Ishkov Department of Natural Resources of the Central Region of Russia The scientific and technological revolution of the twentieth century has turned the world over, transformed it, and presented humankind with new knowledge and innovative technologies that previously seemed to be fantasies. Man, made in the Creator’s own image, has indeed become in many respects similar to the Creator. Primitive thinking and consumerism as to nature and natural resources seem to be in contrast to this background. Drastic deterioration of the environment has become the other side of the coin that gave the possibility, so pleasant for the average person, to buy practically everything that is needed. A vivid example of man’s impact as “a geological force” (as Academician V. I. Vernadsky described contemporary mankind) is poisoning of the soil, surface and underground waters, and atmosphere with floods of waste that threaten to sweep over the Earth. Ecosystems of our planet are no longer capable of “digesting” ever-increasing volumes of waste and new synthetic chemicals alien to nature. One of the most important principles in achieving sustainable development is to limit the appetite of public consumption. A logical corollary of this principle suggests that the notion “waste” or “refuse” should be excluded not only from professional terminology, but also from the minds of people, with “secondary material resources” as a substitute concept for them. In my presentation I would like to dwell on a number of aspects of waste disposal. It is an ecological, economic, and social problem for the Moscow megalopolis in present-day conditions.
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The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges American Lessons - Proceedings of a Workshop PRESENT SITUATION WITH WASTE IN MOSCOW Tens of thousand of enterprises and research organizations of practically all branches of the economy are amassed over the territory of 100,000 hectares: facilities of energy, chemistry and petrochemistry; metallurgical and machine-building works; and light industrial and food processing plants. Moscow is occupying one of the leading places in the Russian Federation for the level of industrial production. The city is the greatest traffic center and bears a heavy load in a broad spectrum of responsibilities as capital of the State. The burden of technogenesis on the environment of the city of Moscow and the Moscow region is very considerable, and it is caused by all those factors mentioned above. One of the most acute problems is the adverse effect of the huge volumes of industrial and consumer wastes. Industrial waste has a great variety of chemical components. For the last ten years we witnessed mainly negative trends in industrial production in Moscow due to the economic crisis in the country. In Moscow the largest industrial works came practically to a standstill, and production of manufactured goods declined sharply. At the same time, a comparative analysis in 1998–99 of the indexes of goods and services output and of resource potential showed that the coefficient of the practical use of natural resources per unit of product, which had been by all means rather low in previous years, proceeded gradually to decrease further. At present we have only 25 percent of the industrial output that we had in 1990, but the volume of water intake remains at the same level. Fuel consumption has come down only by 18 percent, and the amassed production waste diminished by only 50 percent. These figures indicate the growing indexes of resource consumption and increases in wastes from industrial production. Every year about 13 million tons of different kinds of waste are accumulated in Moscow: 42 percent from water preparation and sewage treatment, 25 percent from industry, 13 percent from the construction sector, and 20 percent from the municipal economy. The main problem of waste management in Moscow city comes from the existing situation whereby a number of sites for recycling and disposal of certain types of industrial waste and facilities for storage of inert industrial and building wastes are situated outside the city in Moscow Region, which is subject to other laws of the Russian Federation. Management of inert industrial and building wastes, which make up the largest part of the general volume of wastes and of solid domestic wastes (SDW), simply means in everyday practice their disposal at 46 sites (polygons) in Moscow Region and at 200 disposal locations that are completely unsuitable from the ecological point of view. The volume of recycled waste is less than 10–15 percent of the volume that is needed. Only 8 percent of solid domestic refuse is destroyed (by incineration). If we group industrial waste according to risk factor classes, refuse that is not
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The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges American Lessons - Proceedings of a Workshop dangerous makes up 80 percent of the total volume, 4th class low-hazard wastes 14 percent, and 1st-3rd classes of dangerous wastes amount to 3.5 percent. The largest part of the waste is not dangerous—up to 32 percent. Construction refuse, iron and steel scrap, and non-ferrous metal scrap are 15 percent. Paper is 12 percent, and scrap lumber is 4 percent. Metal scrap under the 4th class of risk factor makes up 37 percent; wood, paper, and polymers more than 8 percent; and all-rubber scrap 15 percent. So, most refuse can be successfully recycled and brought back into manufacturing. This is related to SDW too. The morphological composition of SDW in Moscow is characterized by a high proportion of utilizable waste: 37.6 percent in paper refuse, 35.2 percent in food waste, 10 percent in polymeric materials, 7 percent in glass scrap, and about 5 percent in iron, steel, and non-ferrous metal scrap. The paper portion in commercial wastes amounts to 70 percent of the SDW volume. A number of programs initiated by the Government of Moscow are underway for the collection and utilization of refuse and for neutralization of industrial and domestic waste. A waste-recycling industry is being developed in the city of Moscow, mostly for manufacturing recycled products and goods. One of the most important ecological problems is the establishment in the region of ecologically safe facilities for the disposal of dangerous wastes of 1st and 2nd class risk factors. Pre-planned industrial capacities for thermal neutralization of SDW will be able to take 30 percent of domestic waste and dangerous industrial waste. Construction of rubbish-burning works according to the old traditional approach is not worthwhile and should come to an end. Waste-handling stations have been under construction in the city for the last five years. In two years there will be six such stations which will make it possible to reduce the number of garbage trucks from 1,156 to 379 and to reduce the amount of atmospheric pollution they produce. In addition the switch to building stations with capacity of briquetting one ton of waste into a cubic meter will decrease the burden on waste disposal sites and prolong their life span by 4–5 fold. Trash hauling enterprises will also make profit because of lower transportation costs. Putting into operation waste-segregation complexes (10–12 sites) would reduce volumes of refuse to disposal sites by 40 percent—that is 1,200,000 tons per year. The total volume of burned or recycled SDW would reach 2,770,000 tons a year. A total of 210,000 tons of waste per year would be buried. So, in the course of a five year period, full industrial recycling of SDW could be achieved in practice. Collection of segregated waste is one of the important elements in effective disposal and utilization of SDW. It facilitates recycling of waste and return of secondary material into the manufacturing process. Future trends in segregation and collection of SDW will demand wide popularization and improvement of the ecological culture and everyday behavior of people.
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The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges American Lessons - Proceedings of a Workshop In recent years the high increase in the number of cars in Moscow has brought about not only higher pollution of the atmosphere, but also an avalanche-like accumulation of refuse from vehicles. Besides littering residential and recreation areas, cars represent a source for toxic pollution of land and reservoirs. At the same time, automobile wastes are a good source for recycled products. In the short-term outlook, Moscow has to resolve the problem of collection and utilization of decommissioned vehicles and automobile wastes with particular emphasis on activities of the private sector. Setting up a system for collection and utilization of bulky domestic waste and electronic equipment refuse is also on the priority list. In 1999 in Moscow the following volumes of secondary raw materials were produced or used in the city or were recycled: 300,000 tons of construction waste, 296,000 tons of metal scrap, 265 tons of car battery lead, 21,000 tons of glass, 62,500 tons of paper waste, 4,328 tons of oil-bearing waste, and 306 tons of refuse from galvanizing plants. Such traditional secondary materials as metal scrap and paper waste are not recycled in Moscow but are shipped to other regions of Russia. The worldwide practice of sorting and recycling industrial and domestic wastes demands the establishment of an industry for secondary recycling. Otherwise segregation of waste becomes ineffective. There are restraining factors for the development of an effective system of assorted selection, segregation, and use of secondary raw resources, namely lack of sufficient manufacturing capacities and of suitable technologies for secondary recycling. The problem of utilization of wastes is closely linked with the problem of modernization and sometimes even demands fundamental restructuring of industries. The practical use of equipment for less energy consumption and a smaller volume of wastes and a transition to the use of alternative raw materials are needed. Large enterprises—the main producers of dangerous wastes—are in a difficult financial situation now, which is an impediment for proceeding along these lines. Private and medium-size enterprises are becoming gradually aware of the economic profitability in rational use of waste. For example, the firm Satory started as a transportation organization specialized in removal of scrap from demolished buildings and those undergoing reconstruction. It now benefits from recycling of waste, having developed an appropriate technology for the dismantling of buildings with segregation of building waste. So, as it has been already mentioned above, the first task for Moscow is to establish a basis for waste recycling.
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The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges American Lessons - Proceedings of a Workshop HOW TO CHANGE THE SITUATION WITH WASTE Transition to modern technologies in the utilization of wastes requires either sufficient investments or a considerable increase in repayment for waste on the part of the population. Obviously, these two approaches are not likely to be realized in the near future. The recovery of one ton of SDW with the use of ecologically acceptable technology requires not less than $70–100. Given the average per capita income in 1999 and the likely increase up to the year of 2005, in 2005 it will be possible to receive from a citizen not more than $14 per year. This means that the cost of technology should not exceed $40 per ton of recycled waste. Unfortunately, this requirement can fit only unsegregated waste disposal at the polygons (taking into account an increase in transportation costs by the year 2005). Such being the case, it looks like there is only one acceptable solution for Russia to solve the problem of waste in an up-to-date manner: to introduce trade-in value on packaging and on some manufactured articles. In recent years domestic waste includes more and more beverage containers. Plastic and glass bottles, aluminium cans, and packs like Tetrapak stockpiled at disposal sites will soon reach the same volumes as in western countries. In Canada, for example, this kind of waste amounts to one-third of all domestic waste. A characteristic feature of this kind of waste is that the packaging for beverages is extremely durable and expensive. Manufactured from polyethylene terephthalate (PTA) and aluminum, it is sometimes more expensive than the beverage it contains. What are the ways for solving the problem? Practically all of them are well-known, but most will not work in Russia in present conditions. The first problem relates to collection of segregated waste in the urban sector and in the services sector. A number of reasons make this system unrealistic, specifically in large cities. Sorting of waste at waste-briquetting sites and at polygons is possible. But if we take into account the present cost of secondary resources, this system turns out to be economically unprofitable and cannot be widely introduced. The introduction of deposits on containers for beverages is at present the most acceptable option for Russia. This system turned out to be most effective in a number of countries that have much in common with Russia. In fact this option is not at all new for us. Surely, all people remember the price of beer or kefir bottles. A system of deposit for glass bottles was in operation in the USSR, and waste sites were free from hundreds of millions of glass bottles and jars. We simply need to reinstate this system at present in the new economic conditions according to new types and modes of packaging. Deposits could be introduced also on glass bottles and jars, PTA and other plastic bottles, aluminium cans, and Tetrapak packing.
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The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges American Lessons - Proceedings of a Workshop Let us investigate several non-ecological aspects of this problem, because the ecological impact of secondary recycling of billions of bottles, cans, and packs is quite obvious. Most of the population in Russia lives below the poverty line. When people buy bottles of vodka, beer, or soft drinks, they will have to pay a deposit value (10–20 kopeks for a bottle). The poorest people will carry the bottles to receiving points. A system of collection of packaging will function by itself. Only receiving points are needed. Millions of rubles that are collected will be redistributed among the poorest people for their benefit, and a social problem of the poor will be solved to a certain extent not by charity, but with normal economic means. A second point is also well-known. In a market economy one of the most important problems is that of employment. What happens when the trade-in value is introduced? Thousands of new jobs are created at receiving points and at enterprises that recycle glass, plastics, etc. And we don’t need a single penny from the state budget. More than that, these enterprises will pay taxes and consume products of other branches of industry, thus yielding a return to the budget, not to mention income tax from new jobs. There is another aspect of the matter. Considerable funding is needed from budgets of local governments, including communal repayments for waste collection and disposal at polygons and incinerators. Reduction of expenses for utilization of waste can be significant support for housing and communal reform in general. It is practically impossible to evaluate in general an ecological effect when thousands of tons of waste will cease to occupy plots of land near cities as long-term disposal sites. Operation costs of receiving points and transportation costs could be covered by funds obtained from manufacturers and from returned packaging. Besides, when a waste recycling industry develops and becomes profitable, recycling factories will be able to render partial support to receiving points. Trade-in value can be introduced on all types of packaging except milk products and products for children. It could amount to 15 or 30 kopecks per container, depending on its size. If all plastic bottles with water and beer are sold with trade-in value only in Moscow, the total sum will reach 450 million rubles a year. If we include glass bottles, aluminum cans, and packets, the sum will be one billion rubles. This sum will be redistributed at receiving points among people with scanty means when they receive the money for used packaging and jobs at receiving points and at recycling factories. The bottleneck of the problem now is the absence in Russia of high technology industries for waste recycling. It can be resolved rather easily. At the first stage, used packaging can be sold as raw material for enterprises, including those overseas. There is unrestricted demand for PTA and aluminum on the part
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The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges American Lessons - Proceedings of a Workshop of foreign firms. When waste collection mechanisms are established, there will be limited investments in this branch of industry. With regard to the inexhaustible source of free raw material, this recycling industry will become one of the most reliable from the point of view of recoupment of investments. The Government, regional authorities, the population, and of course ecologists should all be interested in having such a law. The same should be done with sales of cars, tires, and car batteries. Prices of every tire or battery should be higher by 30–50 rubles. These sums of money should be returned back to a buyer or credited when he buys a new tire or a new battery. For sure, such being the case we will not find used batteries thrown about the city dumps. In this case the task is even simpler because there are already a number of facilities for the recycling of tires and batteries. In fact, a law of trade-in value can change the situation with waste in Russia in a fundamental way. Russian legislation has already been prepared, and the concept of an ecological tax has been introduced in the new Internal Revenue Code. Now it needs to be competently introduced. The outlay for waste recycling has to become a type of ecological tax. To realize this task much work has to be done among the deputies and with the Government. Public ecological organizations, including international ones, should play a leading role. ACTIVITY OF PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS IN THE SPHERE OF WASTE MANAGEMENT IN THE MOSCOW REGION We know examples of the ever increasing role of the general public in the solution of the problem of waste utilization, first of all in those countries that have well-developed democratic institutions. “Fight Against Waste” is one of the popular slogans of public organizations abroad. Public opinion has brought about measures of sanitary cleaning in cities, secured better work by municipal services, shut down hazardous industries, and restricted and prohibited incineration facilities. Nevertheless, the struggle against wastes in the economically developed countries, being a manifestation of an advanced attitude towards the environment, has in the long run brought about a paradoxical result. Transfer of hazardous industries to countries with lower environmental standards and inadequate public support—Russia, as an example—has made the world even more dangerous from the ecological point of view. Russia has just embarked on the path of formation of environmental public movements by the establishment of nongovernmental organizations. Representatives of nongovernmental organizations from Russia took part in the international gathering in Bonn in March 2000 of nongovernmental organizations that are members of the International Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Elimination Network. A declaration against incineration was adopted in
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The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges American Lessons - Proceedings of a Workshop Bonn by nongovernmental organizations, which called for elaboration of effective alternative technologies for utilization of waste and safe technologies for elimination of existing stockpiles of POP. Quite a number of environmental organizations are operating now in Moscow. First to be mentioned is the All-Russia Society for the Conservation of Nature, which was established in Soviet times. There are other nongovernmental organizations: Ecosoglasiye, Ecolain, Ecological Union, and the Russian branches of Green Cross and Greenpeace. All these organizations collect and popularize environmental information and organize protest actions against policies of the Government or local administrations on ecological matters. A new political party—Russia’s Movement of the Greens—is being formed. Laws currently in force in the Russian Federation (“On Protection of the Environment,” “On State Ecological Examination by Experts,” “On Production and Consumption of Waste”) declare the right of the public to participate in environmental examination of projects that are to be implemented, including those on the establishment of facilities for elimination and disposition of waste. Public examinations can be organized by the initiative of citizens and public associations. For example, under the law of Moscow “On Protection of the Rights of Citizens while Implementing Decisions on Construction Projects in Moscow,” public hearings are organized by the city’s boards. Decisions taken by local authorities, at referenda and public meetings, may be the very reason for carrying out public examinations. Such examinations are conducted mainly by commissions, collectives, or ad hoc groups of experts. Members of public examination panels are responsible for the accuracy and validity of their expert evaluations in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation. A decision of a public environmental panel has an informative nature as a recommendation, but it becomes legally mandatory after its approval by the appropriate body of the State. Besides, the opinion of the public is taken into account when a project submitted for state environmental review has undergone public examinations and there are supporting materials. Public environmental examination is supposed to draw the attention of state bodies to a definite site or facility and to disseminate well-grounded information about potential ecological risks. This important facet of public environmental organizations in Moscow and in Russia is very weak. To a large extent, it can be explained by an insufficient level of specific and general knowledge of ecology even on the part of the environmentalists themselves. Lack of knowledge on the part of ordinary citizens and public groups and inadequate information (for various reasons) produce alarm-motivated behavior by those who harm the organization of environmental activity in general and waste management in particular. There are nevertheless positive examples of public participation in designing policies of local authorities in the waste management sphere.
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The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges American Lessons - Proceedings of a Workshop Speaking about the Moscow region we can point to the very productive work of the Public Ecological Commission attached to the Council of Deputies in Pushchino, in Moscow Oblast. The population of Pushchino is 21,000. The polygon for solid biological wastes (SBW) has practically exhausted its capacities. In 1996, in order to find a way out, the Administration of the town showed an interest in a proposal made by the Austrian firm FMW to support financially the construction of an electric power station in the vicinity of the town that would operate using both fuel briquettes and SBW of the town. The briquettes would be manufactured in Turkey and would contain 70 percent Austrian industrial waste with added oil sludge. It was also envisaged that during the construction period of the electric power station, 300,000 tons of briquettes would be shipped and stockpiled. The original positive decision was annulled due to an independent evaluation of the project organized by the Public Ecological Commission. The general public of Puschino put forward a counter proposal before the Administration in order to reduce volumes of SBW disposal at the polygon and to prolong its operation—segregation of SBW (food waste, paper refuse, fabrics, metal, glass, used car batteries). As a result, a new scheme for sanitary measures in the town was worked out in 1998, which on the basis of segregation of waste provided for a considerable decrease in refuse flow to the polygon. Unfortunately, for lack of finances in the town budget, the scheme has not been introduced to the full extent. But in spite of severe shortages of special containers for segregated wastes, a network of receiving points for secondary materials was set up. One of the pressing tasks for greater public activity is wide popularization of environmental knowledge on waste management, especially among the young generation. There is a very important role for public organizations to play in this domain when enlightenment and education are becoming a primary concern of nongovernmental organizations. Referring again to the example of the Public Ecological Commission in Pushchino, I have to underline that this organization is taking an active part in the enlightenment of the population through organizing exhibitions, placing publications in the press, and spurring school children into action to encourage cleaning of the town by means of environmental contests, seminars, and conferences. Children help the Commission organize mobile receiving points for secondary material. They even prepare announcements and post them around the town calling on the citizens to take valuable amounts of domestic wastes and car batteries to receiving points. There are other examples of a growing influence of public organizations on the policy of administration in the sphere of waste management in the Moscow region. The Moscow Children’s Ecological Center has worked out the Program “You, He, She and I—All Together Make Moscow Clean,” which is being introduced with the support of the Moscow Government. In the framework of this program, children collect waste paper at schools, and they are taught how to
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The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges American Lessons - Proceedings of a Workshop be careful about the environment and material resources. The storage facilities agreed to support the initiative. They buy waste paper at a special price for school children. Then, the schools spend the earned money for excursions, laboratory equipment, books, and plant greenery. Another example of an enlightened activity is a project realized in 1999 by the firm Ecoconcord on producing video-clips for TV about the adverse effects of waste incineration and the illegality of unauthorized storage of waste. The name Ecoconcord speaks for the main purpose of this organization—to achieve mutual understanding between the general public and governmental organizations, to encourage public involvement in decision-making, and to promote the formation of policy bodies that would not let public opinion be ignored. Proceeding from the global task of integrating the activities of interested parties in lessening adverse waste pollution, public organizations have to cooperate with authorities and not stand against them. Cooperation and consensus between governmental and nongovernmental organizations in working out strategies and tactics in waste management should become a prerequisite in successful realization of state policy in this sphere in the Russian Federation.
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