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Sort and conquer

In the 21st century, to the mandatory elements of the post-industrial world, such as the developed sphere of services and the primacy of knowledge over capital, one more was added: wastelessness, more precisely, the desire for it

Sort and conquer

A society that leaves no trace in nature is the new ideal of our time. The APR countries are actively striving to comply with it, one by one introducing the concept of a circular economy.

Niels Bohr, one of the founders of modern physics, once said: "Humanity will not die in an atomic nightmare, it will drown in its own waste." A little less than a century passed, and his prophecy began to come true. Unfortunately, it will not be an exaggeration to say that today all countries of the world "rely" on mountains of waste. According to experts from the University of Okayama (Japan), in 2000 the total volume of waste in the world amounted to 12,7 billion tons - about 1,95 tons per person (This is the latest information at the moment. In this decade, no such global studies have been conducted - editor's note). According to forecasts, by 2025 the volume of global waste will reach 19 billion tons, by 2050 - 27 billion tons.

Before all, the main threat was felt by the developed countries - the developing countries.

New national idea

The cheapest, easiest and easiest way for many countries to dispose of waste was and remains dumping: from simple open-air landfills to “ecological” disposal centers, where the latest technological innovations are used to extract biogases and generate useful energy. The next in terms of level and cost are raw materials utilization with energy generation during combustion and composting. The most responsible approach to waste disposal today is recycling, or reuse. Proper combination of all these methods underlies the so-called circular economy, based on the concept of continuous transformation, renewal and reuse of resources. A similar program is being implemented in the 15 countries of the APR.

The undisputed leaders of the waste market in the Asia-Pacific region today are the USA, China, Australia, Japan. They are followed by New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan. In all these countries, the waste recycling and processing industry has its own characteristics, determined by a variety of factors: from geographical to socio-demographic. So, because of the large area and low population density, the United States and Russia historically preferred the removal of waste to landfills. In Japan and China, on the contrary, in the priority - thermal recycling of garbage at incineration plants. Australia with its infertile soils actively uses composting.

However, the main role in the formation of the waste market is played by factors of economic growth. Until the middle of the last century, the problem of waste in almost all countries was in the exclusive competence of urban and rural authorities. But the jump in prices of resources (oil and metals), the difficulties in the development of agriculture and the rapid economic growth of the countries of the Asian region contributed to the fact that this issue was decided at the state level. The US Congress in 1965 appropriated the issue of garbage status as a national one, and through 10 years a law was adopted that regulates waste management. In Japan, a similar document was released in 1970 year. In these countries, the attitude of society towards waste for the last 50 years has undergone such changes that the profession of a scavenger has become one of the most respected, and the desire of citizens for a non-waste existence can justify a new national idea.

USA: cult of recycling

Americans were the first to do the sorting and recycling at the industrial level. The pilot center was opened in New York back in 1897 year. Americans invented the machines, pressing garbage, and one of the first to start a massive collection of scrap metal and waste paper, first for military purposes, then for peaceful purposes. But all these initiatives were carried out exclusively at the government level, not finding any hot support among the population. To the ideas of recycling ordinary Americans for a very long time remained indifferent. Even 50 years ago, no one in the US believed that Americans would sort their garbage and even pay for recycling. But today everything has changed: every American making purchases will prefer products from recycled materials. Because he knows that the production of paper from wood is spent more money than from recycled waste, which means it will cost more. Economical citizens of the United States do not want to overpay. They want to be responsible: to care about the environment and, as a result, to pay less.

Today, state regulation in this area is built in such a way that waste disposal in American cities is the cheapest way to deal with them. The fact is that the organization of new open landfills is banned in the USA, and burial and incineration of waste taking into account compliance with all environmental standards is three times more expensive than their processing into secondary raw materials. In many states, laws have been passed, according to which each district is obliged by a certain date to introduce recycling of some of the waste on its territory. In the US, even there is a requirement for state administrations - to buy products of recycling.

Municipal departments of sanitary environmental protection control the process of waste collection and disposal. Recycling is carried out in factories guarded by the police, located outside the cities, far from residential areas. At the plants, the collected waste is once again sorted into two categories. The first includes rotting food residues and waste that is dangerous to human health and the environment. The second is glass, paper, metal, plastic and fabrics. Organic and hazardous wastes are buried as nuclear: in abandoned but carefully guarded areas.

The second category goes to the production of new products.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, in the US, at least 280 million tons of household waste are collected annually (about 1,9 kg per inhabitant every day). Of these, 25% is recycled.

Japan: victorious trash

The population of Japan is about 130 million people - a little less than the Russian. But the territory of the state is different from ours at times. High population density, limited territorial resources in the context of intensive economic development and, as a result, waste generation, led Japan to serious environmental problems in the second half of the 20th century. To solve them, the so-called “zero waste concept” was developed - Zero Waste. She proposed new values ​​and became a new element of the post-industrial world. The word "garbage" in Japan almost ceased to exist. According to the concept, any waste is a product: “biological nutrients” that are composted and returned to the soil, and “technical nutrients” that are recycled. People agree to spend time and energy on sorting the trash can and prefer things from recycled materials. Managers, on the other hand, create conditions under which “unfit products” - those that cannot be processed harmlessly - are simply not produced.

For a year in Japan, it is recruited up to 50,5 million tons of household waste only (according to 1,1 kg daily for each resident). Of these, up to 75% is burned, and about 12% is sent for recycling. Landfills in this country will soon cease to exist as a class. Already, they account for less than 30% of all waste (for comparison: in the CIS - 90%, in the US - 73%). The impact of virtually all enterprises of the country on the environment is reduced to 1-2%.

The essence of the Japanese model is quite simple: all consumers themselves collect and sort waste, and the state assumes the functions of a controller, responsible for transportation to processing plants. The law defines that municipal waste should be dealt with by local authorities, and industrial waste by enterprises where they arise. The system of separation of garbage is actively used even at the government level: the Ministry of Construction and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, etc., manage construction materials.

In developing a model for waste management, the Japanese government took advantage of the experience of Germany, one of the first to create so-called ecological zones. We are talking about eco-towns, where waste is processed. Industrial growth forced the Japanese government to accelerate their creation, and today there are already more than 20 of such ecological zones in the country.

The very first eco-house was built in the south of Japan - in the suburbs of Kitakyushu. Another 30 years ago, this industrial metropolis looked like Russian Chelyabinsk, which is included in the list of the most environmentally unfriendly cities in the world. Today Kitakyushu is a garden city, considered one of the cleanest in Japan. Up to 5% of the local budget is invested in the processing of waste. In the ecological zone outside the city, about 25 mini-factories process the materials of the basic industries: plastic bottles, office equipment, cars and electrical equipment. The Incinerator in Kitakyushu supplies electricity to a fifth of the metropolis. Here, at the research center, new technologies for recycling raw materials are being developed.

Japan has very big plans with a "new product". Now scientists of the country are exploring the possibility of using systems for processing waste in space. In addition, the Japanese look with interest to Russian landfills and landfills, believing that it will be much more effective to dispose of these mountains of debris. However, Russian cities are beginning to adopt the Japanese experience in handling waste and are not in a hurry to give their landfills to foreigners.

USSR: all for collection of waste paper!

It should be noted that many instruments of state regulation in the field of waste recycling, used today in the US, Japan and other countries of the world, were borrowed from the experience of the USSR, where great attention was paid to this issue. For milk, beer and soft drinks, the same bottles were developed that did not need to be sorted. Almost on every street there was a glass container reception point. Waste paper and scrap metal collected the whole country. And the foremost in this difficult business, as a rule, were the pioneers, inspired by the slogans "Hand over the waste paper - save the tree." The most purposeful collectors relied on a small encouragement: for kilograms of paper junk you could get new books. Many of them managed to even build a home library in this way.

Reuse of solid waste in the Soviet Union was a significant element in a number of production cycles. Secondary raw materials were harvested in four main chapters: Glavvtorsyrye (Ministry of Light Industry) collected waste for recycling in cities and industrial communities; Tsentrosoyuz - in the countryside; Glavvtorchermet and Glavvtortsvetmet were responsible for industrial enterprises, state farms and MTS. They were led by the Gosplan and Gossnab divisions at the All-Union level. They sent the first persons of the state detailed and strictly formalized statistical reporting - both general and for different categories of waste.

The whole scientific research institute was responsible for the technological part of the process - the All-Union Scientific-Research Design and Technological Institute of Secondary Resources (VIVR) of the USSR State Logistics Committee. By 1990, its employees created and introduced many technological lines for collecting and recycling waste paper, textile, polymeric and wood waste, used tires, broken glass, waste oil, mercury-containing lamps, galvanic elements, etc.

Of course, not all wastes could be “put into action” again, thus paying for their processing. But the cost of recycling "unprofitable" waste was originally included in the cost of production. And since 1986, a general provision was introduced, according to which an organization developing new types of materials or finished products simultaneously had to create a technology for their reuse or recycling after the end of its service life.

Since 1991 year in the process of economic reform, all the state policy instruments for managing secondary material resources created in 70-80 have been gradually abolished.

Russia: abandoned wastes

It took quite a bit of time for the inhabitants of sovereign Russia to forget both the important role of recyclables and the lessons of frugality. In the middle of the 1990-ies, the Russians were horrified to learn that the popular Lego designers are made from garbage. The fact of using recyclable materials in production then helped the company to raise sales in the West, but in Russia everything turned out exactly the opposite. Today the situation is drastically changing: a new attitude to waste is beginning to form in the country, and similar marketing moves are beginning to act on our consumers.

But the waste economy as a whole remains ineffective: no federal agency is responsible for this problem. Until now, a single integrated waste management model has not been developed. However, in many regions of the country: from the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District to Primorsky Krai, the authorities have already come to an understanding of the severity of the issue and actively interact on this issue with the leaders of the waste market.

Somewhere there is a growing number of landfills (the total area has already passed for 1 million hectares, which is comparable to the territory of Jamaica), somewhere incinerators are being built. Chelyabinsk is trying to learn from the experience of Kitakyushu, Irkutsk - another Japanese metropolis of Kanazawa. Moscow paid attention to the methods of Australia. However, it is very difficult to transfer foreign experience to Russian soil: the differences in tariffs are too large. Sorting and recycling is not supported by the population of our country. Like the Americans 50 years ago, the Russians are not yet ready to sort the garbage and pay three times more for its processing. Especially against the background of constantly growing utility tariffs.

As a result, Russian waste is sorted not before, but after collection. This leads to high humidity of waste and low energy content of raw materials for waste processing plants. In Russia there are only 7 of such factories and uncountable number of landfills (only authorized about 12 thousand). At the same time, according to Rospotrebnadzor, 4,5 billion tons of various wastes every year in the country, of which 56 million tons are household (0,4 tons per inhabitant). About 26% of all wastes are recycled and no more than 3-4% - solid waste (solid household waste).

However, despite the fact that the recyclable market in Russia began to develop relatively recently, and this is not due to increased consciousness, but rather to a negative environmental situation, Russia is not inferior to its neighbors in some sectors of waste utilization. For example, at the rate of recycling cardboard, wrapping paper, aluminum packaging (cans, foil, etc.), we even overtake them. For a number of developing countries, Russia is an example. Mongolia is actively adopting the experience of managing biological and medical waste on the basis of a unique complex for their destruction in Vladivostok. The complex was launched two years ago and successfully solves the problem of destroying such hazardous wastes as syringes, needles, overdue drugs, meat and fish products, corpses of domestic and stray animals, etc., which were previously exported to an open landfill a few kilometers from cities.

The Discarded World

Even the most advanced countries in the fight against rubbish are still very far from ideal. And while the vast majority of the planet's inhabitants continue to throw away thoughtlessly, the world will look exactly like the Kingdom of Cambodia in miniature. There, the issue of household waste from time immemorial was solved in a very simple way: in each family, garbage was simply dropped through a hole in the floor of the house. Soils in this country are mostly marshy, and all the buildings usually stand on piles. Prior to acquainting themselves with the benefits of Western civilization, Cambodians dealt mainly with organic waste, which in the tropical climate very quickly decayed, becoming part of nature. With the advent of plastic packaging, metal containers and other elements of the consumer society, they did not have time to restructure their waste management system under new conditions and continued to throw garbage into the same hole in the floor. Naturally, the new waste of their life activity did not rot, and as a result today almost every house in Cambodia actually stands on the mountain of its own garbage.

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