Waste recycling is as profitable as it is corruption-intensive. Allegedly, a new bill is intended to put things in order in this area, which, although previously adopted, was harshly criticized by the deputies
Waste needs to be managed too
On Tuesday, the Verkhovna Rada, by a majority of 264 votes, adopted in the first reading the bill No. 2207-1-d “On waste management”. This is a framework document: upon final approval, it will require a number of sectoral and specific laws governing waste management.
Its key developer, People’s Deputy Oleg Bondarenko from the Committee on Environmental Policy and Environmental Management, reported on the bill. According to him, the main task of the document is to introduce European principles and regulations in the field of waste management into Ukrainian legislation, as well as create the necessary infrastructure for waste collection and processing, ensure proper environmental control and raise the level of public awareness.
Waste management, according to the bill, includes the procedure for collection, removal and processing of municipal waste, ensures the introduction of their separate collection and recycling, provides for the requirements for the quality provision of waste management services and the calculation of fees for such services.
As stated in the explanatory note, the bill introduces a waste management hierarchy and basic requirements for extended producer responsibility, as well as a long-term waste management planning system at the national, regional and local levels. The draft law also provides for the introduction of a waste management information system. It is proposed to strengthen control over the collection and treatment of hazardous waste by strengthening the requirements for licensing such activities.
It is noted that the implementation of all these provisions will solve a number of nationwide problems associated with the uncontrolled accumulation and disposal of waste, the formation of spontaneous dumps, a total violation of environmental safety requirements in the field of waste management, and will lead to investments in the field of waste management.
History and essence of the issue
On June 19, the day of his appointment, Roman Abramovsky, Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine, spoke about the need to adopt such a law. According to him, the reform of waste management and bringing the entire waste collection and processing system in line with European standards will become one of the priorities of the ministry’s work – along with the fight against industrial pollution.
Today in Ukraine the Law “On Waste” from 1998 is in force, which neither contributes to the creation of a civilized waste processing market, nor solves the problem of preserving the environment. In Ukraine, about 400 million tons of waste are generated annually, and only 6% of them are recycled – this is a very low figure compared to the EU countries (about 40%). Most of the waste is disposed of to landfills and dumps, of which there are 5424 (official) in Ukraine, they occupy an area of over 9 thousand hectares. Of these, about 5% are overloaded, and 30% do not comply with environmental safety standards. And there are still about 33 thousand illegal dumps …
Household waste is generated annually 11.5 million tons, of which only 5% is sent for sorting, and is also incinerated at the only recycling plant in the country “Energy”.
“Nowadays, it is mainly the enterprises that are engaged in garbage disposal that make money. There are 1143 of them all over the country. The absolute majority (850 enterprises) are in communal ownership, 274 – in private, the remaining 18 companies – in partly communal, – said “DS” expert on urban studies Vadim Malyshev. – Every Ukrainian pays for the services of household waste transporters, making a monthly payment for the adjacent territory, of which a small share goes to cover the costs of garbage collection. The highest cost of waste disposal services is in Vinnitsa and Transcarpathian regions, the lowest – in Chernigov, Poltava and Zhytomyr. Organizations also get paid, and that’s a tidbit. Slightly less than half of the funds for garbage collection of state bodies and municipal institutions from all over Ukraine goes to just one company – the Kievkommunservice utility company. ”
Draft Law No. 2207-1-d is necessary for the separate collection and processing of bags, paper, glass, plastic bottles and similar waste. Further implementation of extended producer responsibility systems by special laws will create conditions for the collection and recycling of electrical and electronic equipment, cars, tires, oils, plastic or glass bottles, cardboard, paper, metal products, batteries, accumulators and other goods. The rest of the waste will have to be handled by the municipal system, which will provide city residents with containers, special waste collection points and guarantee the removal and processing of household waste. Bill No. 2207-1-d provides for the creation of municipal waste collection points – the so-called “drop off centers”, which are in most European countries. That is, at the municipal level, issues of management of fairly safe waste that pollute the environment less will be resolved – but their recycling also brings less money.
“The bill will create a legislative basis for changing the current licensed system of accounting and reporting on waste, a poor-quality hazardous waste management system, and will provide local governments with financial leverage to establish municipal waste management systems,” said DS in the Reanimation Package of Reform coalition. – We are deeply convinced that the version of the bill No. 2207-1-d, although it contains a number of controversial provisions, in general introduces the main European instruments and approaches to the field of waste management. The bill will finally give an impetus to a full-fledged waste management planning – the adoption and implementation of National, regional and local waste management plans. ”
Meanwhile, the parliament members saw a number of dangers in the bill. For example, conditions are being created for significant overpayments on the part of the population as consumers of garbage collection and sorting services. Mykola Knyazhitsky from the European Solidarity faction said that the draft law was incomplete and could be perceived as lobbying. In particular, it is not clear what is included in the waste management tariff. There is a whole range of services (from removal to sorting and processing), each of which may have its own contractor, with whom you will need to conclude a separate contract. There is a danger that the same service can be paid by the consumer twice – in the tariff for waste management and separately.
Also, according to Knyazhitsky, the concept of “municipal waste” has not been disclosed, there is no mention of the approach “you throw out less – pay less”, although it is spelled out in the National Strategy for Waste Management, but most importantly, a significant increase in prices for disposal services will be provoked and disposal of household waste. Indeed, the bill stipulates that a municipal waste management system is “a set of measures, waste management facilities and entities providing individual waste management services within a territorial community or a united territorial community.” But what is “municipal waste” is not specified.
And in the conclusions of the Main Scientific and Expert Directorate of the Rada, it is said: “The project provides for a“ fee for the service for the management of household waste ”, while“ the tariff for the service for the management of household waste includes tariffs for services for the collection, removal, recovery and disposal household waste, as well as the costs of the service provider for the management of household waste ”(part 1 of article 34). But in accordance with paragraph 4 of Part 2 of Art. 16 of the project, waste generators are obliged “in the event of the generation of household waste to conclude an agreement on the provision of services for the management of household waste with the provider of the relevant services and pay a fee for the provision of such services in accordance with the established tariffs.” Thus, the project creates legal grounds for imposing on the consumer of waste management services unreasonable additional costs for their payment. ”
The bill was also criticized by the leader of Batkivshchyna, Yulia Tymoshenko, who said that its adoption would destroy 60 thousand jobs that currently exist in the field of sorting, burial and processing of waste. In addition, according to her, a single owner of all waste will appear in Ukraine, so that foreign investors in the field of processing household waste (if any) will simply have to buy this waste for processing. “This is monopolization for one structure, which will corrupt this entire area and slow down the attraction of foreign investment. We already know the name of the person to whom they will all give it, ”Tymoshenko said.
However, she gave this name, as well as did not mention which structure would become the monopoly owner of all Ukrainian waste.
Today, most of the enterprises involved in the removal, processing and disposal of household waste are subsidized, largely due to the large debts of the population for housing and communal services. However, in Europe, recycling of household waste is a business with a profitability of about 60%. Suffice it to say that Finland, for example, buys household waste from Russia. Similar – waste processing as a profitable business – is possible in Ukraine. But so far, landfill owners make money on the garbage.
“There are two ways to make money on garbage – removal and shadow processing. Earlier, they still earned on burial unofficially, in excess of the norms, but today it is already difficult – landfills have exhausted themselves. Officials closely connected with this business earn on export. It is difficult to take into account garbage, so you can easily issue inflated invoices for the allegedly exported volumes, – Vadim Tsvetikov, a recent employee of one of the Kiev utilities, told DS. – The second is the landfill owners. It is beneficial for them that the garbage is not sorted, it is taken to them as it is. There they hire different lumpen for a penny, they sort the garbage for them at the landfill, and then the owners, as individuals, hand it over for recycling – ferrous and non-ferrous metals, plastic, rubber. They rent it on an industrial scale, but they themselves receive money for burial. ”
It turns out that these are the people who are interested in maintaining the “garbage” status quo. According to the expert, they are opposed by the owners of processing enterprises. For them, the law on waste management is important in order not to buy garbage from landfill owners, but to collect it locally, and already sorted. The processing margin immediately rises.