Cleaning up the Planet: The Circular Economy
2 September 2021
Creating a system to incorporate waste into circulation reduces the amount of ‘cleaning’
Waste isn’t something that is unnecessary. It’s a valuable product that needs to be incorporated into economic circulation. The more we do this, the less we’ll deplete our country’s natural resources [...] We certainly need to improve the quality of life by decreasing waste generation, reducing its volume, and, as a result, minimizing the volume of its disposal — Dmitriy Tetenkin, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation.
We are largely responsible for the technological component [...] Our job is to increase the volume of equipment, specifically high-tech equipment, that is produced in the Russian Federation so that it’s cheaper to create such [waste disposal] facilities and so that our public law company [...] can effectively help business establish such facilities on our territory as quickly and efficiently as possible — Viktor Evtukhov, State Secretary – Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.
A circular economy cannot be created without introducing standards for the use of recyclables
We need a market for recyclable materials […] We sort 20% and recycle 5% [...] So the essence of the new Circular Economy federal project is precisely to create this market [...] We need to say how much our industry will be ready now and potentially in the future to accept recyclable materials in order to produce new types of products — Denis Butsayev, General Director, Russian Environmental Operator Public Law Company.
Waste treatment needs to be organized locally
The Far East makes up virtually half the territory of the Russian Federation. Ten percent of the inhabitants of the Russian Federation live in the territory of the Far East and the Arctic. And, of course, the definitive answer to your question – should there be a circular economy here – is certainly yes — Dmitriy Tetenkin, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation.
Our job is to achieve a sustainable result here through digital and the involvement of residents and business […] Because otherwise we run the risk that these waste management megaprojects in the Far East are unrealistic — Vladimir Solodov, Governor of Kamchatka Territory.
I think we need to discuss the question of where we are going in the Far East. That is to say, what is of utmost importance: this nevertheless means material utilization, energy utilization, and creating good modern landfills that take into account the number of territories — Viktor Evtukhov, State Secretary – Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.
Separate waste collection and waste disposal control is not well organized in Russia
Separate collection is the foundation of the circular economy [...] In the Russian Federation, only 15% of citizens are able to have household waste collected separately — Dmitriy Tetenkin, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation.
Nothing will work without control [...] We collect 197 billion [tonnes] from citizens, and 3.7 [billion tonnes] from industry, which must pay the environmental fee. I’d like to remind you that the entire waste management industry is divided into two parts: everything related to recycling [...] from citizens, and everything related to disposal should come from the waste disposal facility. If there’s no money in disposal, then there’s no disposal — Denis Butsayev, General Director, Russian Environmental Operator Public Law Company.
Inability to completely abandon plastic
We are responsible for different industries that produce entirely different products from different materials and different raw commodities […] When we talk about abandoning certain types of packaging […], it’s good that we can pack everything in paper, but it’s physically impossible — Viktor Evtukhov, State Secretary – Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.
People have a negative attitude towards energy recovery
Energy recovery is not yet prevalent in the minds of citizens because they have such a wary attitude towards it […] Neither we nor the rest of the world will move away from this type of waste disposal in the coming years [...] I think we will learn how to select waste as much as we can [...] but one way or another some tailings will remain and we will still have to do something with these tailings — Viktor Evtukhov, State Secretary – Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.
The Arctic and Far East don’t have enough waste processing plants
When we talk about collected plastic or metal, […] it’s extremely expensive to extract. Holding onto it means disposing of it again. It means recycling it. There should be tools that would make it possible to build recycling facilities in a fairly compact way. We are actively working on sites for eco-technology parks now with the Ministry of Industry and Trade […] as part of the circular economy […] There are many gaps in regulation — Denis Butsayev, General Director, Russian Environmental Operator Public Law Company.
Legislative regulation lags behind environmental needs
The federal project [...] is not about the circular economy. It’s about the system for handling municipal solid waste […] What is a circular economy and how does it differ from the construction of municipal solid waste infrastructure facilities? It creates a market for recyclables [...] If there’s nowhere to go with it, then it doesn’t work, — Denis Butsayev, General Director, Russian Environmental Operator Public Law Company.
New legislative initiatives will bridge the gap between modern environmental requirements and current regulations
We have concluded that the norms and rules currently in Federal Law 89 [...] are not fully and not always able to solve the tasks that we set for ourselves based on our approaches to the circular economy. In this regard, the ministry has proposed that the government consider the possibility of adopting the Federal Law ‘On the Circular Economy’ — Dmitriy Tetenkin, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation.
The process of abandoning what is recycled or is impossible to extract […] should be a very delicate one […] It [a ban on the use of certain types of packaging] shouldn’t be viewed as ‘we took it and turned everything off starting from tomorrow’. It should be viewed as a target that we should reach within a few years, allowing industry and manufacturers to move to more sustainable types of packaging. And they should be encouraged not by a ban, but by the rate of the environmental fee — Denis Butsayev, General Director, Russian Environmental Operator Public Law Company.
A responsible attitude towards separate waste collection needs to be fostered among the public and business
People are willing to pay higher tariffs if we say that we will ensure eco-friendly and complete recycling in exchange. And until we get each citizen involved in this problem, we won’t find a sustainable solution — Vladimir Solodov, Governor of Kamchatka Territory.
We would like to suggest that all regional operators who sort garbage contact us, and we will remove up to 1 tonne of batteries free of charge from anywhere in the country and [...] transport them to recycling plants and dispose of them — Yuriy Korotaev, General Director, Duracell Russia.
Innovations in the waste collection, sorting, and disposal process
We have now reached an import substitution level of around 60–65%. It’s clear that this is mainly equipment that our factories from the engineering industry are producing. Now the goal […] is to produce high-tech equipment [...] In St. Petersburg, the company Intelligent Systems produced a robotic arm with integrated artificial intelligence, which sorts 20 types of different packaging [...] There are more examples of such high-precision separators — Viktor Evtukhov, State Secretary – Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.
Technology is advancing and more and more compact units are emerging. We are now in the process with our initiators of purchasing the simplest equipment that allows you to make pens from plastic bottle caps — Vladimir Solodov, Governor of Kamchatka Territory.
Energy recovery of plastic
Plastic cannot be recycled multiple times and ultimately has to go somewhere. But for this we have energy recovery, which […] we are supporting […] We are debating about how many modern waste incineration plants should be built in our country. As you know, five are already under construction, and we are talking about [building] 25 […] I’d like to remind you that […] there are now more than 1,700 waste incineration plants in the world […] In Switzerland, there are 30, in Japan – 800, and in China – 280 — Viktor Evtukhov, State Secretary – Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.
The case that we are actively developing now is the integration of waste incineration technologies with the energy technologies of coal-fired power plants [...] There is great potential here because the energy sector of the Far East has coal-fired power plants that have substantial investment programmes and there is a tariff that is subsidized by the First Pricing Zone — Aleksandr Finogenov, Director of the Investment Activities Block, InfraVEB.