Is waste winning?

A draft law establishing a maximum recycling rate of 100% for manufacturers has been submitted to the State Duma.  Representatives of public environmental organizations believe that sustainable waste management requires state support for waste prevention infrastructure and the recycling industry.



The current recycling rate for packaging ranges from 10% to 45%, depending on the material. The adoption of amendments that increase manufacturers’ responsibility for recycling goods and packaging is inevitable, experts believe, as current waste control measures are not yielding the expected results.

Attempts to improve the system of producer responsibility, including higher recycling rates and the introduction of an environmental levy, have been made since 2015. The new version of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) bill proposes a maximum recycling rate for all packaging, oils, and batteries, as well as a phased-in increase in the recycling rate for other products.

Another planned measure of the “federal level” is the inclusion in the list of key performance indicators of the Russian Environmental Operator (REO) of the percentage of the population involved in sorting waste. In other words, the company, which is responsible for waste management at the national level, will work to ensure that more and more of our fellow citizens put their garbage in the “right” containers.   The Russian government has ordered the percentage of sorted waste to increase from 26% to 42% in 2021. At the same time, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Natural Resources have been instructed to work on the issue of allocation of funds from the federal budget for the purchase of containers for separate waste collection.

According to the new version of the bill on waste collection, not the producer of packaging will be fully responsible for the formation of waste, but the producer of the product. At the same time, all producers will have to pay an environmental fee (non-tax, to the federal budget), the amount of which depends on their compliance with the standard, which is supposed to stimulate the financing of sorting, transportation, and recycling.


“Producers of goods will have to think about involving the maximum amount of secondary raw materials in production in order to minimize their costs for waste collection and disposal,” says Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Alexander Kozlov.


So far, the waste reform is literally choking on waste. According to the REO, at the end of 2020 in Russia was equipped with approximately 22% of the required number of landfills for waste. In the middle of last year, a few dozen operators were on the verge of bankruptcy. The crisis worsened to the point that local authorities began to finance waste removal and sorting from their budgets, fearing garbage blockages in the streets.


“The regions have different readiness to organize the separate waste collection,” Alexei Makrushin, deputy general director of REO, comments on the situation. “In some regions, operators use their own funds to buy containers. However, many regions do not have sorting facilities, so there is no sense in buying containers.”


Some experts think that the main obstacle for the mass introduction of separate waste collection is the lack of legally stated responsibility.  Other experts think that educational work with the population is the key: the installation of separate collection containers is unlikely to motivate people to sort waste on a massive scale. An explanation is needed, and, of course, financial incentives.


Measures to stimulate waste sorting were discussed about a year ago at the federal and regional levels. “There are also incentive tools. The simplest one is that if you sort your trash, you pay less,” says the former head of REO Ilya Gudkov. Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment proposed to exempt people from paying for separate garbage collection. However, this proposal was not supported by the government.


According to representatives of public environmental organizations, at this moment a whole complex of measures aimed at preventing waste formation, reducing the volume of its formation, as well as its reuse is necessary. In the Report  “The Green Course of Russia”, which was prepared with the participation of experts of the Russian Social and Ecological Union (RSEU), civil society representatives propose to amend the existing legislation of the Russian Federation, which will contribute to the development of the system of the collateral value of containers and packaging. The experts also consider the redirection of state support measures from thermal neutralization and energy waste utilization to the creation of waste prevention infrastructure and development of the recycling industry to be effective.


English version: 
Тип информации: