Paper, metal, glass, plastics, and other domestic waste should not be placed in a single garbage can. The principle of garbage sorting, which is practiced in many parts of the world, has now been introduced in Ukraine as part of the action Let’s Keep Ukraine Clean. Experts say that this innovation should not be ignored, considering Ukraine’s desire to reach the level of highly developed countries and our country’s ecological situation, which needs drastic changes to overcome the ecological crisis.
According to experts’ data, 130,000 hectares of land in Ukraine are occupied by garbage dumps filled with 35 billion tons of solid waste. Every year 12,000 illegal garbage dumps are created in the country, because there are not enough dumpsites. Ukraine has over 700 garbage dumps for domestic solid waste, and 500 more have to be created. Only three percent of the total mass of garbage is subject to utilization. Many garbage dumps have already run out of space, and they have become an anthropogenic burden on the environment. The lack of filtration systems at practically every dumping ground and garbage dump makes them more dangerous. According to data provided by the Ministry of Housing and Municipal Economy of Ukraine, the highest number of overloaded grounds is in Chernihiv (43) and Poltava (25) oblasts, and the worst indices in meeting standards of ecological safety are in Kherson and Chernihiv regions.
“In order to resolve this problem, the Ministry of Housing and Municipal Economy has implemented a program for the secondary use of solid domestic waste,” explained Oleksandr Ihnatenko, the deputy head of the Welfare and Communal Services Department. “A number of laws have been drafted on the use of dumpsites, and the utilization and incineration of garbage, which envisage the implementation of garbage sorting. But it is impossible to achieve success without the support of business structures because, according to preliminary estimates, the state has to allot 100 billion hryvnias just on the conversion to garbage sorting. This figure includes the cost of new containers (three or four garbage cans instead of one), new garbage trucks, and the construction of a sorting line. Therefore, the introduction of garbage sorting has been launched only in four cities in Ukraine: Cherkasy, Kyiv, Irpin, and Myrhorod.”
The Let’s Keep Ukraine Clean action was launched in the capital of Ukraine - in Kyiv’s five higher educational establishments, to be more precise. According to Serhii Kvit, the president of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy National University, his university was the first institution of higher education in Ukraine to implement a garbage sorting system at the students’ initiative: during the project students collected and sorted over 2,000 kilograms of garbage, including 200 kilograms of glass and 50 kilograms of plastic bottles, materials that are not biodegradable.
Experts say that garbage sorting will reduce by 40 percent the amount of waste that ends up in garbage dumps. The rest of the garbage (60 percent) will be sent to garbage recycling plants. Since Ukraine has only four recycling plants, the problem of garbage disposal is most acutely felt in large cities. Over 3 percent of the total amount of garbage is concentrated in big cities. Every year over 800 tons of garbage are generated in Kyiv, which end up in dumpsites or are incinerated. Experts are convinced that Kyiv will run out of landfill in three or four years.
In Europe garbage sorting was introduced 30 years ago. But housewives got used to sorting garbage into several bags and throwing it into three or four containers only relatively recently. For a long time they complained about having to keep several different garbage bags that take up space in their kitchens. How much time will Ukrainians need to get used to sorting glass, paper, metal, and other kinds of waste? Although this is a difficult question, people have to start in their own homes.
Ilona SHAROVA, head of corporate communications, Tetra Pak Company:
The public project Let’s Keep Ukraine Clean, initiated by the British Council and the Tetra Pak Company, is designed to unite society and business in order to develop a joint plan of concrete actions aimed at improving the state of the environment. We invited students to undergo testing to define the impact of a single individual on the environment. As a result, the students learned what influence they have on the global state of the environment (this test is posted on www.myfootprint.org ). According to the results of this survey, 85 percent of students at Kyiv- based institutions of higher education are ready to take concrete steps to reduce their negative influence on the environment. Several companies that recycle solid domestic waste are now ready to sign agreements with three educational institutions.
Garbage sorting allows sending secondary raw materials for recycling, not to dumpsites that now cover four percent of Ukraine’s territory (the approximate area of the Carpathian Mountains). Recycling is the most effective way of utilizing waste because plastics, glass, and metal get a second life. For example, paper towels are made of cellulose, and glass and aluminum are converted into paving slabs. The garbage sorting system is the most widespread method of treating waste in 25 countries (the US, Japan, Brazil, and in Europe). Other countries’ experiences prove that informational-educational work among the population brings positive results, although not immediately. Although garbage sorting will not alleviate global warming, it will draw people’s attention to this problem and encourage a feeling of personal responsibility for the world we live in.