While implementing sustainable waste management system which implies its way from separate collection to recycling, logistics is the most demanding part: secondary raw materials transportation to the plants where waste will become resources and, finally, new things. The Baikal region is one of the most difficult in this sense: there is no deep recycling facilities; transport routes in remote locations are very tough: water communication, heavy earth-roads. Lake Baikal Foundation carried out a research to define the level of eagerness of the companies in the Irkutsk region and the Republic of Buryatia for cooperation with the specially protected natural areas (SPNAs): national parks and reserves around the Baikal, regarding transportation and recycling of waste resources.
The experts held more than 50 in-person and telephone interviews with large and middle businesses which specialize in collecting recyclables and selling it to recycling plants.
The results have demonstrated that out of 55 respondents – companies specialized on plastics, glass, metal and paper only 4 (7%) are eager to start a dialogue with the SPNAs (FSBI «Zapovednoe Podlemorye», the Baikal State Reserve, FSBI «Zapovednoe Pribaikalye») about possible collection of selected recyclables. At the same time all representatives indicated tough requirements to quality, volume and types of the collected fractions, essential for the start of negotiations.
The Irkutsk region (the cities of Irkutsk, Angarsk, Shelekhov)
Most companies agreed to take part in a survey and an interview, the experts managed to visit some enterprises and see the process of receiving recyclables, baling and packaging metal, grinding glass and hard plastics. 91% of the respondents which recycle color metals are ready to discuss the conditions of aluminium and tin transportation. At the same time only 9% of correspondent companies are willing to start a dialogue about transportation of paper, plastics and glass. Other enterprises agree to receive recyclables at their centers in Irkutsk and put a price on them. Given that, none of them expressed willingness to organize transportation of recyclables from the SPNAs at their own expense as sponsorship or in the framework of social responsibility of business.
The Republic of Buryatia (the city of Ulan-Ude)
The directors of recycling companies in the Republic of Buryatia were reluctant to contact, many of them did not share information about their work and are not ready for the dialogue, referring to unprofitability of transportation and recycling of secondary raw materials from the Zabaikalsky national park (the territory of the FSBI «Zapovednoe Podlemorye» – the area of the Foundation’s Trash Free National Parks project). Following the results of the expert research, 14% of the companies including the regional waste operator «EcoAlyans» are not ready to cooperate with the SPNAs. However, most businessmen (82%) are eager to receive metal, paper, plastics at their centers and put a price on them. They refuse from cooperation if the source of recyclables is further than 50-100 km from the city. The distance between the city of Ulan-Ude and the Zabaikalsky national park is 280 km.
What requirements do apply to recyclables in the Baikal region?
- Volume. The key point for saving transportation costs and profitability. The minimum volume of one type of recyclables for transportation is 5 tons, average requirements are 20-30 tons. At the recycling centers, where people bring the secondary raw materials by themselves, any amount is acceptable.
- Uniformity. For example, there is no room for plastic elements in paper, transparent glass is separated from green and brown. It is impossible to recycle mixed waste or it decreases the quality of deliverables significantly, which is why all the recyclables are checked and sorted if needed, which makes it cheaper. Should the foreign materials be found, they can throw away up to 30% of the whole volume.
- Cleaness. Dirty recyclables can be received only by a very cheap price or cannot be received at all: washing and drying processes are very costly. For this reason, it is necessary to implement selected garbage collection in national parks and at the entering points of reserves, to increase the visitors’ and employees’ eco-culture.
- Compactness. Compression of selected recyclables is important to increase profitability because their transportation in so-called loose condition in very costly for the recycling companies in the region. An average small compactor costs 90 thousand rubles. The compression issue is very urgent in sustainable waste management in the Baikal region: the companies pay primary attention to it.
- Distance and transport accessibility. Regardless the volume of recyclables produced in the national park, there is always a question of profitability of its transportation. If the distance is more than 50 km it is considered unprofitable. Beside that, it is influenced by the ratio of the recyclables’ cost and the fuel’s cost plus operating costs. However, there are enterprises which are ready to discuss the conditions of transportation of very big volumes of recyclables (3 tons and more) for longer distances.
Meeting these requirements means to define quality, prime cost and possibility of recycling of secondary raw materials. The Baikal region companies are ready to start a dialogue only with the SPNAs which have already implemented selected garbage collection and have possibilities to provide recyclables of good quality.
Methodology of the research
Following the results of the official enquiries to the Ministry of Environment and Nature Resources of the Irkutsk region and the Republic of Buryatia and to the regional branches of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resource Usage, the experts of the Foundation studied the lists of the collecting and recycling secondary raw materials enterprises which became the base for the research. Besides, the experts double-checked the data obtained from the Internet resources and the catalogues. Then they created questionnaires for the companies which included questions about volumes and types of received recyclables, further stages of their life cycles (recycling, reproduction), willingness to cooperation with natural areas to support sustainable waste management systems, etc. Finally, 55 companies were selected for the pool. All of them took part in the survey and were verified by the experts through in-person and telephone interview.
The research results speak volumes about the urgent problem of logistics and transportation of both mixed communal waste ad recyclables in the framework of sustainable waste management in the natural areas. It is understood that the situation in the Baikal region reflects the whole system of waste management in the Russian SPNAs. Obviously, they need financial support from the government for implementation of selected garbage collection because in current economic conditions this requires significant efforts from the areas, especially the remote ones: calculation and maintainance of infrastructure for several waste streams, transportation costs, etc.
The Ministry of Nature Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation approved the initiative for funding the renewal of containers, including the bins for separate garbage collection in the regions, the project is being studied by the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation. It is necessary to consider targeted financing of the federal SPNAs which include FSBI «Zapovednoe Podlemorye», the Baikal State Reserve, FSBI «Zapovednoe Pribaikalye».
The regional waste operator companies which currently are not interested in separate garbage collection outside the city where they work also need support. Additional funding will help the companies to launch recycling, safe disposal, compost facilities.