Green energy and the path to Zero Waste concept: the summary of the study tour of Russian eco-activists to Finland and Norway

Representatives of non-government environmental organizations and experts of the Russian Social-Ecological Union from St. Petersburg, Leningrad, Arkhangelsk and Murmansk regions and the Komi Republic visited environmental organizations in Finland and Norway to study and promote the experience of foreign green initiatives.

We were hosted by Finnish non-profit initiative EkoEnergy (a division of the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation) which fulfills the development of eco-labeling for energy sources and promotion of renewable energy in Finland, Europe, worldwide and in even Russia.

An energy expert at Solnet Green Energy Oy Antti Lehmuskoski told us that coal, nuclear energy, and peat still occupied a significant role in the energy balance in Finland (there is a saying "Peat is Finnish coal"). But serious steps are being taken towards developing renewable energy sources with goals to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035. So far ambitious goals are quietly slowly but steadily being implemented. In 2018 only 1% of all electricity consumed here was obtained by converting solar. Wind energy is growing faster and wind power production is now around 5,000 GW and it is planned to increase rapidly.

Expert of the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation Hanna Aho spoke about the forest sector in the Finnish climate policy. «Since the 1990s, CO2 equivalent emissions have decreased by 21 percent according to official statistics. But in the last couple of years carbon uptake decreased by 31% from 2017 to 2018 due to logging.»

The participants discussed the waste management system in Finland. Jouni Nissinen, head of Environmental policy, said: «Since 2007 the amount of waste being buried has been actively declining from 1,500 million tonnes per year to be minimized to thousands per year in 2017». But this decline was due to almost only incinerators plants, many of them were put into operation in 2009. In the coming years it is planned to grow recycling jointly of the gradual elimination of waste - incinerators. During the period from 2007 to 2017 the volume of recycled waste increased insignificantly from 1100 to 1200 million tons per year. The development of the sphere of incineration hinders the development of the sphere of waste processing. That’s why in 2019 the EU recognized incineration as not conducive to sustainable development.

The host organization in Norway, the Norwegian society for the conservation of nature, has extensive experience and plans to cooperate with NGOs in the North-West region of Russia in promoting sustainable development, particularly in the focus of energy and resources. The participants of the study tour visited the waste sorting station at the municipality of Asker, the biogas plant Romerike, participated in a round table on the exchange of experience.

The municipality of Asker with a population of 60 thousand people has the sorting station that accepts waste from ordinary people, households and also small businesses. Appx.10 thousand tons per year pass through the station. There are temporary accumulation and sorting. After the station recyclable materials are sent to processing plants, usable items are gone to secondhand or used more times. Mixed waste is sent to the incinerator. (on the topic of incineration, the RSEU supports the position of the Alliance against incineration and for waste recycling, and also argues for a critical attitude to incineration in Position on solid municipal waste management). 

Sven Moe Bjorson, head of the municipality's waste management department of Asker, told us, that 10-15 years ago this place had been a dump. The landfill had been accepting mixed waste for more than 40 years. But today methane from this mass is converted into electricity. It is used for power supply of the station (for heating and ice fighting). If there are surpluses, they are sent to the city energy grid.

The Romerike Biogas Plant located in the municipality of Nes, processing biowaste from the city of Oslo. The plant is designed for 50 000 wet tonnes (per year) of source sorted organic waste from households, combined with some industrial biowaste. Now the average load is about 35,000 tons per year. "Every year the volume increases because people start to separate food waste more precisely," - Cecilie Bjørnethun, an employee of the Oslo Department of transport and environment. Following pre-treatment with the thermal hydrolysis process, the waste is converted to biogas and to biofertilizer in three different types. The biogas is upgraded to methane characteristics and turned into LBG (Liquified BioGas). The liquid biogas fuel is used to run 135 buses in Oslo. As a result, carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by approximately 10 000 tons each year, and local air quality improves due to lower particulate emissions. The plant can also provide 100 medium-sized farms with fertilizers at full capacity-liquid biofertilizer, bioconcentrate and solid material are saturated with phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium.

The study tour had an important part also in Russia. The participants of the tour were acquainted with the enterprise ZooProtein in Lipetsk region. They developed a unique technology for processing meat production waste. Carcasses and meat waste are converted into fodder protein by flies larvae Lucilia Caesar. It is 30 percent of the original waste weight for feeding animals, poultry and fish. The other 30 percent of the original waste weight goes into organic fertilizers. The rest ones are evaporated moisture. The main advantage of this technology is its possible implementation of almost every meat production plant. It will be allowed to save money for the company for investing to waste disposal, reduce the negative impact on the environment, reduce the shortage of feed protein. According to Igor Istomin, Director of the company, in Russia, the annual shortage of feed protein is about 1 million tons, and in the world appx.20-25 million tons. Unfortunately, the development of technology is hampered by the lack of a regulatory framework for biological waste processing (there is only regulation on animal burial grounds, the burning of such waste and the creation of bone meal at high temperature). But the company ZooProtein has been working on this issue for 4 years. It is made some researches conducted the safety of the technology. As a result, protein has already been registered for using pig-feed.

Кормовой белок. Фото от компании ЗоопротеинБоксы для выращивания мух. Фото от компании Зоопротеин

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