In 2021, a waste recycling plant is to be built near Penza [a city 625 km to southeast of Moscow.] It has become a subject of juicy discussions. Officials cannot decide whether to use a landfill in the village of Chemodanovka or whether to construct the plant.
According to the plan, a garbage processing plant is to be built within the next two years in the Bessonovsky district of the Penza region. The cost of the project is estimated at 1.35 bln rubles ($18.07 mln.) On 6 November 2018, an appropriate concession agreement was concluded with Mag Group Penza. The land plot has already been allocated and formalized. A power supply project was developed. A two-lane road construction project is undergoing an examination.
"The timeline for the project has been determined. In December 2021, we are to start the construction of the garbage recycling plant. It is better to start it earlier in order not to fall behind the schedule," said Ivan Belozertsev, the governor of the Penza region.
Meanwhile, the construction of the plant, strange as it may seem, has already sparked off numerous controversies, both among officials and experts. In particular, there is an opinion that under the guise of a plant a waste-sorting station might be built near the regional centre. Allegedly, waste from the whole region will be taken there as once in the past the officials tried to do 4 km away from the Shiyes railway station in the Arkhangelsk region for all the garbage coming from the Moscow region.
"A facility for an up-to-date solid waste management envisions a garbage recycling plant without incineration. This fact is very important. According to the plan, there will be a landfill for solid municipal waste to dispose of non-recyclable fractions, mainly, organics," Mikhail Panyukhin, the head of Penza Region's Housing and Utilities Department, said via Instagram account of Ivan Belozertsev. According to Yury Maksov, an ecologist from Moscow, this means that garbage will simply be sorted and buried in deep trenches. The plant will be equipped with systems that will prevent waste from getting into the environment after disposal. A geomembrane and drainage system will prevent sewage water from leaking into the soil and groundwater. A gas pipe will not allow landfill gas to inflame inside the site reducing smoke levels. "It seems that a large compost pit will be built under the guise of the plant," said Panyukhin.
In 2017, Andrey Grishin, the head of the Penza Housing and Utilities Department, said that the Chemodanovka landfill was more than 80% full, and its capacity would last 3 to 4 years. However, in 2020, Alexander Yukhin, another head of Penza's Department of Housing and Public Utilities, said that Chemodanovka landfill could take waste for another 9 years, until 2029. According to Yukhin, the landfill was only 65% full.
Nikolai Rumov, an environmental and social activist from Penza, says that there are two gangs that are involved in the waste-related issue in the region. "I won't call their names. Otherwise, I would face a libel suit. However, some of them are interested in continuing to take waste to the existing landfill. Others have succeeded in building a plant because they have no commercial interest in the landfill. At the same time, there will be no equipment at this plant, as you already know. What is the difference between just dumping garbage in one place or burying it somewhere else? For the environment and people living nearby there is none. I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years, these two groupings will just come to an agreement and split the profits among themselves.”
Sergei Starostin, who is in charge of the Chemodanovka landfill, says that the landfill is one of the oldest in Europe. It has been operating since the end of the 1950s. For a long time, it was just a city dump with an area of 150 ha. The process of waste disposal was chaotic. In 2009, a municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill was set up. Today, there is an area of 82 ha. Reclamation was carried out on the remaining territory. According to the official data, the capacity of the landfill in Chemodanovka is 7.42 tonnes of waste. Every year, more than 300,000 tonnes of waste is dumped there.
In the course of the "rubbish-related reform," which began in Russia in 2019, the entire Penza region was conditionally divided into four zones. For each, a regional operator was determined. Three companies got this status in the region. They will collect, transport, process, recycle, neutralize, and bury solid waste over the next 10 years. In addition, the regional Waste Management programme, including WSW, was drafted in the Penza region for 2018-2027. It enshrines a number of key indicators to be achieved through the “waste-related reform.” In particular, by 2022, it is necessary to commission 24 waste management facilities: 15 waste transfer stations, 6 garbage-sorting complexes and 3 landfills. According to the plan, three existing landfill sites will be modernized. In addition, the share of waste to be disposed of in the total volume is to reach 33% by 2027.
In December 2020, Vladimir Putin said during a meeting with the media that Russia needed to create an industry where waste would go not to landfills but would be reused. "We also need to create a well-functioning waste recycling system. It is necessary to shift responsibility for recycling not on people, but on packaging manufacturers. This practice is common all over the world, and we will follow it too," Putin said. It will be interesting to see how quickly these words of the President will be heard in the Russian regions?