06.03.2020
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Wind of rubbish

How the reform of waste collection has changed the Moscow region

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The reform of rubbish collection was launched on the 1st of January 2019 as a part of “The Comprehensive System Of The Household Waste Treatment” project. This project in its turn is one of ten parts of Russia-wide project “The Ecology”. It was stated in 2018 and going to continue till 2024.

Parts of national project «The Ecology»
Parts of national project «The Ecology»

Moscow and other 10 regions excluded themselves from the program for a while. They will join it in 2022. The experience of the Moscow region on the contrary has become a role model.

What the government did?

The Moscow region government organized separate collection of household garbage. Bins of different colour appeared in cities. Blue one is destined for recyclable litter such as paper, plastic, glass, and metal. Grey bin — for non recyclable rubbish. Yellow ones that can be found in shopping malls and other public places are intended to contain dangerous waste like batteries, chargers and home appliances. Such garbage is transported to Chelyabinsk to the conversion.

Sorted safe rubbish should be sent to the local waste recycling plants. There are five such places now. As the Chairman Of The Government Of The Moscow Region Yevgeny Khromushin said, till 2030 only 5% of rubbish will be buried. Now 28 of 39 wastelands are closed, rest of them will follow as soon as 7 recycling plants will have been constructed. Moreover, 4 incineration plants are to appear till 2022. It is supposed that in the process of burning electricity will be produced.

Grey bins are removed regularly, while blue ones — after having been completely filled
Grey bins are removed regularly, while blue ones — after having been completely filled

In some cities the government with the support of rubbish utilising companies have launched social projects. They believe that it motivates dwellers to hand over waste for recycling. Every handed over 7 kilograms of paper, 10 kilograms of glass or 3 kilograms of polyethylene give Electrostal citizens discounts to the partner organizations of the project “Waste to Wealth”.

What dwellers noticed?

New line has recently appeared in utility bills. It is a tax for garbage removal. Such service used to be included into apartment service tax. The Moscow region has not switched to per capita calculation of tax, therefore residents have to pay it depended on the living space. As a result, a single pensioner in a three-room apartment «trash» more than a family in a single-room one.

New incineration plant is to be built next to the largest not only in the Moscow region but also in Europe landfill “Timokhovo”. The first stage of construction is degassing of the dump. Dwellers of Timokhovo, Elektrougli, Elektrostal, and Noginsk monitor the process and regularly complain about the smell of landfill gases within 10 kilometres. The situation is aggravated by the Elektrostal landfill six kilometers from Timokhovo. Landfills poison both air and water, so the residents of nearby settlements have to buy expensive and powerful filters, while to Elektrostal water comes from the Vladimir region.

Safety area around the dump is from 500 to 1000 metres.
Safety area around the dump is from 500 to 1000 metres

“It turns out that 1.5 million tons of waste will be stored in Timokhovo per year and 700 thousand tons will be burned. In other words, more than 2 million tons of rubbish will be put just in one point every year! We will be completely deprived of water, air…”, — said Veronika Kuzmina, representative of the active group of residents “Stop plant and landfill Timokhovo”.

What else?

The Moscow region produces about 5.3 million tons of garbage annually. Landfills accept up to 4.6 million tons, conversing complexes — up to 1.1 million. In addition, Moscow dwellers send up to 6.6 million tons of waste beyond the Moscow ring road annually. Due to the lag of the Moscow “garbage reform” from the Moscow region, the capital’s garbage will be “raked” by the rest of Russia, primarily the Moscow region. Half of the conversing and incineration complexes capacity is designed for Moscow.

At the same time the Moscow region government is going to change waste generation standards. They consider the standards to be lower than they should be what means that the dwellers of the region produce more litter. In this case they would pay for garbage removal more. However, where this waste is to be sent legally?

Unlike the government, residents do not think that the taxes are low. The percentage of their collection in any region does not reach 100%. As a result, regional operators that are responsible for removing garbage to legal landfills and conversing complexes are on the verge of bankruptcy. The resignation of the head of the “Russian environmental operator” also indicates the unstable situation of the “garbage reform”.

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