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31 Aug, 2021 13:40

Trashing the environment? Big stink as Russian officials warn dozens of landfills & illegal dump sites are threatening to overflow

Trashing the environment? Big stink as Russian officials warn dozens of landfills & illegal dump sites are threatening to overflow

Russia must act urgently to avert a looming garbage crisis, with more than 20 regions of the world’s largest country running out of landfill capacity and risking ecological damage if residents continue to dump trash illegally.

That’s according to Minister for Natural Resources Alexander Kozlov, who told Rossiskaya Gazetta on Monday that dozens of facilities are almost full and will run out of space within the next two or three years.

Among the 20 districts at significant risk are St. Petersburg and the surrounding Leningrad Region, as well as Sevastopol in Crimea, he warned on Monday. In these districts, “landfills will be closed” until January 2023.

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In nine other federal subjects, including the Kamchatka peninsula, Magadan in the Far East, and the wildfire-hit region of Yakutia, the shortage of waste disposal capacity has forced many to turn to using illegal landfills.

“By 2030, it is necessary to halve landfill disposal. This is what we are focusing on,” he said. “28 sites are the biggest problem. We have a lot of unauthorized landfills. How much of all this is stored there? It’s hard even to guess,” he added.

In response to the question of what will be done, Kozlov said that the Russian Environmental Operator has drawn up an action plan for each of the regions.

“The infrastructure for sorting and disposal of waste, for the creation of landfills is planned for each of them,” the minister stated. “The regions will have to accelerate and ensure the implementation of these projects. I hope that the governors will treat this with caution because if [the problem of overflowing waste] overwhelms the cities, it will not seem like an adequate response to anyone.”

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Russia has been trying to battle the issue of waste for several years now. In 2019, protests broke out against open-air landfills outside Moscow and the pollution affecting locals. Environmentally minded residents and eco-activists complained about the dangers and stench, as well as appealing to authorities to make changes in waste management to alleviate the problem.

The Ministry of Natural Resources drew up a roadmap and strategies in an effort to remedy the issue by the year 2030. One of the most recent components of Russia’s garbage reform began in January 2019, when a new garbage collection tax was implemented. However, critics say the tax has yet to make a significant difference to the waste problem faced by the nation.

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