National Environmental Forum sets priorities for waste management in Ukraine

24 Oct 2013

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The National Forum “Waste Management in Ukraine: Legislation, Economics, Technologies” was held in Luhansk. The main focus of the event was the modern methods of waste processing and management. Key tasks for the Forum included designing recommendations for a comprehensive  solution for municipal and regional issues of solid waste management, implementation of energy efficient technologies, attraction of investment and innovation, facilitation of cooperation between state and local authorities, civil organizations, science, and business, elaboration of the legal base for addressing waste issues, improvement of international cooperation, and introduction of sustainable development principles in Ukraine.

The forum convened high-level officials, including Oleg Proskuriakov, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine; Gennadiy Temnik, Ministry of Regional Development, Construction and Housing Communal Economy of Ukraine; Dmitriy Goncharenko, Head of the Ecological Investment Agency of Ukraine; Vasil Stashuk, the Head of the State Agency of Water Resources of Ukraine and many others.

In 2012, approximately 0.5 billion tons of waste was generated in Ukraine, with a total amount of accumulated waste reaching a staggering 36 billion tons. Out of this amount, more than 1 million tons, including dangerous waste, are being accumulated in unauthorized dumps. The total area of waste fields (including sludge reservoirs, waste banks, and ash disposal areas) has reached 165,000 hectares. In addition, 50 million cubic metres of domestic waste are being generated each year. Only a very small amount of waste is being used as secondary resources.

Speaking at the Forum,  UNDP Senior Programme Manager, Sergiy Volkov underlined:"Luhansk is the leader in the sphere of solid waste management in Ukraine. With UNDP support local authorities and private sector  have installed a landfill flare which burns methane - the gas that has a global warming potential 22 times higher than carbon dioxide. This project  is important not just for environmental but economic reasons too. This is a wonderful example of turning waste into energy, of turning a bad situation into a forward looking, low-carbon economic opportunity"

According to  Tatiana Timochko, the Head of the All-Ukrainian Ecological League, the key problem in dealing with waste is inefficient management. “We accumulate millions of tons of waste, pollute our environment, and keep exhausting primary resources. We are taking them from future generations and don’t care what is going to happen in a hundred years,” said the environmentalist. “Our government and businesses should start thinking about creating not only waste management institutions but a separate industry to deal with waste.”

"Ukraine has a legislative base on waste management and has acceded to a number of international conventions on the subject matter that make its policies correspond to the world practice in this field. At the same time, there is no relevant coordinated system of waste management. Among state agencies there is a diffusion of obligations on this issue, which makes some of them fail to consider it as a priority topic in their activities. The market mechanism on waste management of secondary resources hasn't yet been formed. There is no [government] support for the use of waste processing technologies and the world know-how. Furthermore, there are no effective mechanisms for identifying norms of payment for generated waste that could incentivize producers," underlined Ms.Timochko.

Vladimir Pristiuk, the Governor of Luhansk Oblast, underlined that the Forum pointed out all of the environmental challenges faced by the region. "This Forum is very topical for our region due to the fact that Luhansk Oblast is a heavily industrial region. We should look for solutions to make our industrial sector environmentally safer and engage both public and private sectors in this process. We are ready to take this issue seriously and make decisive progress," underlined the public official.

He also noted that Luhansk Oblast ranks fourth in terms of waste generated in Ukraine. Mr.Pristiuk expressed that there is a need to create a new waste processing industry that could resolve these issues in different spheres of the economy.

Gennadiy Temnyk, the Minister of Regional Development, has noted that, "Luhansk has made substantial progress in waste management and the oblast’s experience should be shared and applied in other regions.”

Oleh Proskuriakov, the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, underlined that, “Waste generation and management are extremely crucial issues for Ukraine. On the one hand, natural resources are being used extensively and without taking into consideration principles of sustainable development. On the other hand, ineffective use of resources, obsolete technologies, and the absence of an effective recycling system leads to the accumulation of huge amounts of waste that take up a large area of land. As a result, this adversely affects people’s health and the environment.”

As a result of the Forum the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine, Donetsk State Oblast Administration, and Horlivka City Council have signed the Memorandum on Implementation of Joint Efforts on Environment Protection. In accordance with it, the sides will join their efforts to improve the environmental situation in the region.