Pick-up points for ‘broken revenue’
Belarus produces at least 200,000 tonnes of glass waste annually — mostly bottles and jars. Meanwhile, the glass recycling facilities at Grodno, Gomel and Yelizovo receive just 50-60,000 tonnes of ‘domestic’ glass waste: far less than their capacity can process. Around 20,000 tonnes are purchased from abroad, despite our country easily having the potential to provide this internally.
By Semen Bogomazov
Directly to landfill site
The Deputy General Director of Belresursy Association, Gennady Popov, tells us that most bottles end up in landfill sites: several hundred thousand tonnes of glass waste take this route annually. It hardly seems to make sense, since Belarus is actually deficient in glass, requiring purchase from abroad, using foreign currency.
A couple of years ago, a question was raised of how to enable cleaning, removal of labels and colour sorting (brown, green and white). Last December, a modern plant was launched in the industrial zone of Kolyadichi, near Minsk, to produce recycled glass from around 120,000 tonnes of fragments every year. The factory is designed to work continually, with three 8-hour shifts; sadly, lack of raw materials means only one shift occurs daily.
“It’s hard to say what the facility could really achieve,” admits Mr. Popov. “In Germany, up to 90 percent of glass comes from recycling, saving money and materials. Belarus has the capacity to provide the same proportion of its glass needs, but plants are standing idle.
Specialists urge that an efficient system of waste collection is needed, so that people can place empty glass jars and bottles in special bins. Mr. Popov argues that Belarusians are not used to the idea of separating out their rubbish. He also believes that a national recycling campaign to promote the idea may not achieve results. He is confident that the only way forward is to place recycling points in every courtyard, so that the process is as easy as possible. Few such recycling points currently exist. He explains, “Last year, we noticed that courtyard yellow bins for plastic waste, paper and glass worked well, filling quickly — and their number was quite large. Those for glass were less popular, probably because there were fewer of them, so people had to walk to find them. As a result, they filled slowly.”
Example to follow
Separate waste collection organisations are experiencing progress. According to the Deputy Minister for Housing and Utility Services, Anatoly Shagun, around a decade ago, just 2-3 percent of secondary material resources came from domestic recycling. This has now risen but various problems continue unresolved. “The establishment of a modern facility to sort glass waste inspires us to create a system for separate glass collection — at least in Minsk,” he says.
A recent decree envisages ‘expanded responsibility of producers and suppliers of certain goods and glass packaging’, obliging them to actively participate in collecting secondary material resources — glass in particular. In addition, glass packaging producers and suppliers can either independently collect waste or conclude agreements with the Ministry.
“Following the Governmental order, we’ve declared the launch of a month-long trial for recycling collection, encouraging companies and citizens to pass along the glass waste they’ve accumulated over winter months,” Mr. Shagun adds.