Investment Portal of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation

For the sake of the future

Recycling in the Arctic presents a challenge that calls for breakthrough solutions

22 july 2022

22/07/2022 // How to create an efficient waste management system that will safeguard the delicate environment of the high latitudes from pollution? This was a key discussion point at the Conference on Waste and the Problem of Microplastics in the Arctic, held in Arkhangelsk on 20 July as part of Russia’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

'We should focus on the cleaning up the accumulated damage and the ongoing waste management activities,' declared Sergey Anoprienko, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation, at the conference in Arkhangelsk.

Every year, about 60 mn tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) are generated in Russia. Around one million of these are generated in the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation. However, it is more difficult to dispose of waste in the Arctic, compared to the rest of the country, not only because of the extreme climate, but also because the settlements are often extremely remote, with no paved roads in between.

'Building infrastructure at high latitudes is more costly. There is a need for extra mechanisms government support mechanisms. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is aware of this and offers its assistance,' said Alexander Zakodyrin, chairman of the Public Council at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation.

Arkhangelsk Region, which hosted the conference, is one of the four subjects of the Russian Federation that have received federal funding for the construction of MSW management facilities. The regional government aims to halve the amount of waste going to landfills by 2025 through the active development of waste sorting projects.

By the end of 2022, Ecology, a Research Institute from Perm, will finalise its R&D project that will be tested in Nenets Autonomous Region. Choosing the best way to recycle waste in the Arctic is a crucial question that must be answered. There are three options that are being explored: setting up local MSW recycling, waste removal, and using waste for heating in Polar settlements.

Following up on these efforts, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will develop a concept for waste management in the Arctic Zone. It will reduce the amount of waste going to landfills and introduce sorted waste collection, thus contributing to the adoption of a closed-loop economy.

Environmental education will play an important role in reducing the amount of waste.

'Pollution is always the fault of a particular person who failed to properly dispose of the waste. Only when people take responsibility will the construction of modern infrastructure be justified,' asserted Ruslan Gubaidullin, Executive Director of the Clean Country Association.

The waste composition itself will also change, as the circulation of eco-unfriendly packaging in retail and catering establishments will be restricted.

These measures will greatly diminish anthropogenic impact on the fragile ecosystems of the Arctic.

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