How to manage waste in the Big City and the Baltic Sea?

At the forum “Ecology of the Big City” waste management became one of the key topics for discussion. Friends of the Baltic participated in Forum events and spoke about the role public participation and citizen science in marine litter and microplastics research. Read the brief report below.

The panel discussion "Practical issues of environmental protection in the context of the national project "Ecology" brought together experts from state institutions, science and business. You can find more about program and speakers using this link .

Nikolai Borisov, the Head of Waste management department in Leningrad region, mentioned the recycling plant in Gatchina.

Amosov Mikhail Ivanovich, Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg, member of the standing Committee on ecology and environmental management, spoke about the experience of other countries - Germany, Finland and Estonia. For example, Estonia recycles about 30% of the waste, however it took them 15 years to reach this indicator. In Russian targets, according to Amosov, we should achieve 25 % of waste processing by 2020. it is difficult to achieve such great results in such a short time. In 2018 Russia recycled only 3% of its’ waste.

Sergey Korotkov, Director of the Center for International Industrial Cooperation in Russia, noted that back in the time social movements were those who launched all the work on the topic of waste management in Japan. "In the late 70's there was "smoked" sky and garbage. Today 3 years old children are taught separate accumulation of waste", - said Mr. Korotkov. Link to official press release  .

On March 20 the Forum also hosted "The best practices of St. Petersburg for the collection, removal, processing and utilization of municipal waste" Conference. Read more about the program and speakers here.

Unfortunately, the position promoted by many experts and authorities at the conference was reflected in the title of the official press release: "Recycling enterprises of large cities do not need separate garbage collection".

Waste management specialists stated that it is impossible to recycle more than 10% of municipal waste (based on existing experience). World experience shows that with separate waste collection more than 80% of waste can be recycled. Friends of the Baltic support the Memorandum by the ALLIANCE AGAINST INCINERATION AND FOR RECYCLING and implementation and development of infrastructure for separate waste accumulation.

On March 21st, the section on marine litter and microplastic was held within the framework of “Baltic sea Day" Forum 2019. Social activists, scientists, representatives of international organizations and state institutions discussed results of the studies of marine litter on the coasts and microplastics in the waters of the Baltic sea and river basins. Sources and necessary measures to solve this problem – legislation, business initiatives, consumer choice also were the subject of discussion. As a result, the section adopted the Resolution Resolution of the Marine Litter round table_0.pdf Short results of marine litter and microplastics session , program and presentations you can find on helcom.ru.

On the beaches of the Kaliningrad region the predominant type of pollution with microplastics is foam plastic (foam, polystyrene). This information and other results of several projects on microplastic pollution in the Baltic sea were presented by Elena Esiukova, P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences.

 

Simple research involving local residents and school groups helps to cover larger area for investigation and collect more statistics. Elizaveta Merinova, Friends of the Baltic expert, spoke about public participation in research to solve the problem of plastic pollution and the development of civil science – a direction that is gaining popularity in Russia and abroad. Studies have shown that microplastics found in the Gulf of Finland waters and rivers of the basin.

 

Positive examples of initiatives to refuse disposable plastic were presented in the report by Yevgeny Lobanov, Director of the Center for environmental solutions, Belarus. Evgeny shared the information about recommendations for institutions to reduce plastic pollution. Giving up disposable plastic at different levels – from an institution or firm, to municipal or regional level - is one such measure. In the Baltic region member States of the EU already implemented legislative prohibitions and restrictions on single-use plastic. But Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, being a part the Baltic sea basin, remain on the sidelines.

 

Everything that a person does leads to the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Friends of the Baltic sea together with Finnish colleagues from the Consulate General of Finland and with the support of the Committee on environmental management of St. Petersburg held an interactive seminar “Sustainable lifestyle: how to reduce the impact on the environment every day and tell everyone about sustainable development” in the exhibition hall of the Forum. Guests learned how to talk about the fight against climate change to attract and motivate an audience. Experts from Finland provided examples of movements and initiatives: from waste-free cafes to global school actions inspired by Greta Tunberg. Victoria and Elizabeth, Friends of the Baltic experts, spoke about the components of personal carbon footprint and ways to reduce it, using the 5-R concept of Zero Waste (refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot) as well as what reusable items one can use to eliminate single-use plastic from every day activities.

Then participants were invited to think about global problems associated with transport, food and clothing industries and consumption and to offer solutions for the most acute of them. The participants advised to use public transport and bicycle instead of personal cars, prefer train to airplane, reduce consumption of animal products, buy second-hand and natural fabrics, recycle textiles and give clothes for charity.