What kind of interest is to buy someone else’s trash? We ourselves are full of it, we don’t even know what to do, so it ends up in landfills, turning into toxic waste.
WILL THE PLANET TURN TO A “PLASTIC Porridge”?
Today, 8 million tons of plastic garbage per year, or 1 garbage truck with a capacity of 20 cubic meters, fall into the waters of the World Ocean and other water bodies on Earth. m polymers per minute. According to UN estimates, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the water than fish.
Deadly little thing
Most of the plastic garbage “issue” Southeast and South Asia. The pollution of plastic bags and bottles of the largest on the Indochina peninsula of the Mekong River has long exceeded all norms. All this rubbish is carried out to sea and spreads over the World Ocean – as a result, at least five giant garbage spots of polymer particles have already formed there: two spots in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and one in the Indian Ocean.
Environmentalists argue that microplastics, which are solid particles of synthetic polymers 5 mm or less in size, are present not only on the surface of the water, but also across the bottom of the oceans, and even at the bottom of the deepest Mariinsky Depression in the world. It is formed as a result of the decomposition of large plastic, during the washing of synthetic clothes, in the process of using certain types of washing powders and even toothpaste. It was found even on the mountain peaks. It also gets into drinking water – both tap water and bottled.
Plastics of any kind have decomposed over the course of centuries, which means that during the life of current generations all the plastic garbage left by mankind will not go anywhere by itself. Indeed, until now, nature has not “digested” not a single plastic product since the beginning of the manufacture of plastic products that have been conquering the world since the end of the 19th century. And if humanity doesn’t come to its senses and doesn’t stop treating plastic waste so thoughtlessly, over time, our planet will consist entirely of polymers, like “plastic porridge” in the film “Kin-dza-dza!”.
The dominance of nature by microplastic is detrimental to all living things. Fish and birds take plastic particles for food and swallow it, which leads to their death. In an ecologically healthy environment, these birds live 40-50 years. Today, more than 30% of them die before they reach 10 years of age. Every five minutes in Ukraine, one seagull dies, swallowing deadly plastic.
“There are 6 thousand official landfills in Ukraine, which today have accumulated more than 12.5 billion tons of waste,” says the head of the National Ecological Council of Ukraine Oleksandr CHISTYAKOV. – To more clearly imagine this mass of garbage – this is a mountain with a base of 20 km and a height of 10 km. Everest from the trash! According to unofficial data, this is only a small part of the iceberg. After all, we have more than 35 thousand unofficial landfills. They occupy approximately 14 thousand square meters. km And this is comparable to the six dimensions of the state of Luxembourg. Our landfills occupy a territory larger than the Transcarpathian region. We have all reserves combined, occupy about 9% of the country. And landfills – more than 11%. ”
In Ukraine, a maximum of 3% of waste is recycled. Is it a lot or a little? In the EU, Chistyakov continues, an average of 70% is processed, in Sweden – 98%. The latter is the only country in the world that purchases garbage from other states so that its waste processing enterprises do not stand idle.
And our country is buried in garbage. Last year alone, we added 421 million tons of waste. It turns out that for every Ukrainian in 2018, 8.5 tons of garbage was added. If you do not stop this garbage apocalypse, then soon we will simply suffocate, littered with our own waste.
“In order to improve the situation, we need to begin to implement, and – at all levels, the Law on Separate Collection of Wastes,” the head of the National Ecological Council is convinced. – This law was adopted back in 2018, but – it does not work. It is also necessary to increase the responsibility of manufacturers of plastic products and companies that are responsible for the removal and recycling of garbage. And you need to create a single Fund, accumulating funds for the disposal of plastic. We need to start building waste incineration plants according to modern projects, with the prerequisite for the availability of sorting lines. All over the world, countries receive income from waste processing, including in the form of gas and electricity. And with us – everything is at the antediluvian level, it is buried in the ground in order to poison everything around for centuries. ”
Every day a growing list of countries that have completely abandoned the use of plastic bags or significantly reduced their use. And they introduce the use of eco-plastic, which, in contrast to the “immortal” plastic, decomposes in the natural environment for two years, while not releasing substances harmful to the environment. It is estimated that it is much more cost-effective to use eco-packaging than to engage in plastic recycling that is harmful to humans and nature. In stores in Italy and France, products are offered exclusively in eco-packaging.
Of course, plastic has firmly entered our lives. And many products from it are practical. But this practicality fades before the deadly threat that plastic poses to the environment, our health and even our lives.
WHY UKRAINE BUYES FOREIGN WASTE?
So why do we need someone else’s rubbish so much for which we spend millions of dollars a year? In fact, we do not buy garbage, but raw materials for production. Then what prevents the establishment of plastic waste collection in Ukraine itself?
“According to our estimates, plastic waste is imported mainly from the EU (31%), the Philippines (21%) and Tunisia (14%). In total, about 100 thousand tons of waste were imported in 2018, the total cost of which was about $ 40 million. Of these, about $ 30 million was accounted for by PET or polyethylene terephthalate (the same plastic. – Ed.). 78% of cullet is imported from Belarus. More than 90% of them are sorted (including by color) and treated waste. The total cost of imported cullet in 2018 is about $ 11 million. Waste paper for the production of cardboard and paper factories is also imported into Ukraine. The total cost is more than $ 80 million. More than 54% of it was imported from Russia in 2018, another 20% from Poland, ”says Dmitry ANUFRIEV, CEO of RECYCLING SOLUTIONS.
But, at the same time, we sell waste abroad. According to our expert, whose main activity is related to industrial wastes of the metallurgical, heat power and coke and chemical industries, it is the wastes and by-products of these areas that are exported to 15 countries, including the USA, Germany, Turkey. As for household waste, according to official data, the total value of the export of secondary resources in the main categories (plastic, cullet, waste paper) amounted to $ 2.8 million for 2018. About 0.6 million dollars is accounted for by the export of plastic, which goes to Poland (29%), Hong Kong (17%) and Russia (14%). PET and polymethylmethacrylate, the so-called organic glass, are mainly exported. About $ 2.2 million falls on paper and cardboard waste. The main export countries are the Netherlands (46%), Austria (17%), Hungary (13%). The smallest last year was the export of cullet – it was sold abroad in the amount of only 22 thousand dollars.
So why is our garbage transported abroad, and at the same time, we deliver the same waste from abroad? Why, then, companies that import waste cannot arrange for their separate collection in Ukraine – is it really not more profitable than taking garbage from abroad? It turns out that the fact is that most imported recyclables are very well sorted. And this is the “trick” of imported garbage, compared with ours.
According to D. Anufriev, for each of the main types of waste, imports are significantly higher than exports, which suggests that the domestic demand for such raw materials is not covered by our existing waste management infrastructure. In order for the waste recycling process in Ukraine to work efficiently, it must fully meet the requirements of end consumers – companies that use recyclables in the production process (these are manufacturers of plastic products, cardboard and paper and ceramic plants). Moreover, recyclables, which are imported for Ukrainian production, are mainly qualitatively sorted. For example, by type of material, the same plastic: it is divided into ethylene, styrene, propylene, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), vinyl chloride. Or by color – glass is white, green or brown. Such sorting will require either a high level of public awareness or significant investment for the sorting plants.
And how much of our domestic waste is recycled in our country? According to experts, in Ukraine in one year, one person throws 250-300 kg of garbage, and 93% of it goes to landfills and landfills. Only 7% goes for processing.
But all the same, the country has no other way to resolve the issue of household waste, except to arrange separate collection and proper sorting of household waste, and also benefit from this. What are our prospects in this regard?
“In Ukraine, manufacturers of packaging containers, beer, mineral water, soft drinks, dairy products, including those who were forced to adhere to this in the EU countries, are not responsible for the further disposal of used packaging in which their products are sold. The entire burden of creating and implementing waste management solutions and financial support for measures for the separate collection of packaging waste has been transferred to local budgets. And since they don’t have adequate funds for this, including sorting containers, the country loses a significant resource potential for the processing industry every year, ”Anufriev said.
In order to change the situation, in his opinion, it is necessary to create a legislative and regulatory framework in the field of waste management – in accordance with European standards and the RRO (extended producer responsibility), based on the separate collection of solid waste (municipal solid waste).
In our country, the level of MSW management is mainly determined by the level of payment for services to utilities and private companies. In 2018, the average approved tariff for handling solid waste was 102 UAH / m3, and the average tariff for waste disposal was 30.5 UAH / m3 (about 3 UAH / month for 1 person). Such a tariff, the expert believes, only covers the costs of removal (collection and transportation) of waste to landfills.
In addition, the cost of constructing future facilities for handling solid waste, both regional managed landfills and waste recycling complexes, significantly exceeds the existing volume of paid services in the field of household waste management.
Therefore, in Ukraine, the need has ripened when using tariffs for the processing and disposal of waste to include a certain component there for the implementation of investment projects. Until this is realized, we will not be able to expect improvements in the field of domestic waste processing. Also, nothing will change if the Ukrainians themselves, throwing unnecessary garbage in their bucket, do not begin to relate to this process in a different way. And even in their kitchen they will not begin to sort their garbage so that it is ultimately clean and dry. Otherwise, the processes of decay may begin in it, and it already has a direct road not to processing, but to the landfill.
WHERE STARTED TO LIVE ON THE PRINCIPLE OF “ZERO WASTE”?
Cities appear in the world where almost all the garbage is recycled, and in the future landfills will simply be disposed of there.
San Francisco (USA)
The goals of “zero waste” should be achieved by 2020 – garbage will not go to landfills or incinerated at all.
All garbage that is collected in the city is divided into three streams: dry recyclables, wet organic waste, and more. What constitutes a danger can be handed over directly at points of sale; textiles are also separately collected and processed. Sorting is obligatory for a business; abandonment of it leads to huge fines. Restaurants must sort food waste. Disposable plastic bags are prohibited in the city.
The goals of “zero waste” will be reached by 2020.
All residents of Kamikatsu separate their garbage into 34 types: for example, steel cans, aluminum cans, cardboard, paper advertising, etc. The separate collection program started back in 2003.
Since the city is small, all residents are obliged to bring pre-sorted garbage to the recycling center, where its employees are taught to use separate containers correctly, and in case of errors they recycle waste. There is a second-hand shop in Kamikatsu, where you can bring more suitable things. There is also a small recycling shop where, for example, toys from old kimonos are made.
By 2020, the city intends to sort and recycle 100% of the garbage.
The “zero waste” program, which operates here, provides not only for sorting garbage, but also for refusing to use disposable packaging and utensils. For example, detergents and drinks in local stores can be bought in their own containers, which is very beneficial and at a price.
As part of the program, residents received a free set of containers for sorting waste that are transported by special vans on certain days. Bulky garbage is taken in a special center. At the same time, the local population receives a discount on utility bills for waste collection, as well as special checks.
The goals – to reduce the sending of garbage to landfills by three times – are planned to be achieved by 2030. The townspeople began to hand over several times more recyclables when the city switched from collection on container sites to apartment buildings. Now it is not the resident who takes out the garbage for recycling, but the collector comes directly to the house for him. To involve more people in separate collection, ordinary mixed garbage was started to be disposed less often than sorted. At the same time, the cost of sorted garbage collection for the population decreased. The popularization of the idea of reusing various things also played a role. In Ljubljana, things exchange centers are actively opening. By 2030, only 50 kg of garbage per year will come from every person to landfills.
In India, plastic bags recognized as “killers.” According to the Association of Fishers of Ukraine, during one of the floods more than 100 people died there. The reason was recognized as plastic bags that clogged storm sewers. And in India they categorically banned their use in retail chains. A serious fine has been imposed, and for repeated violation – criminal liability.
Plastic bags are made from oil. Annually, more than four percent of all world oil and gas production goes to the manufacture of plastic bags. In 2018, only in Kiev used about 3 billion packages. One passenger car could drive more than 1.8 million kilometers on the oil spent on their production.
According to statistics, each citizen annually uses about 500 plastic bags. This led to the fact that landfills for 35% filled with polymer waste.