* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
We have a very basic and utilitarian issue on the agenda today, quite literally, since we are here to discuss waste treatment and recycling. This is one of the biggest issues for resolving our environmental problems, and guaranteeing public safety and a decent quality of life for millions of people.
I will go into more detail later, but all of you here already know very well that this problem is becoming an increasingly pressing issue for our country. I will give a few figures. In Moscow and the surrounding Moscow Region, where Moscow buries its waste, this is already an economic and social problem and is becoming a political issue too. The same is true of the situation in our other big cities.
We will discuss today how to develop a modern system for treating and recycling industrial and household waste. This seemingly very prosaic problem has an immense economic and social dimension. The way societies go about resolving this issue in today’s world is a measure of countries’ and business’ maturity and their ability to provide a comfortable environment for their citizens.
This is why green growth, curbing emissions, and rational waste treatment and recycling, including for energy production, are fully on the global agenda now. These issues will most likely all come up too in the G20, in which Russia currently holds the presidency.
”Our task is to ensure all the necessary conditions for our industrial companies to develop rational and competent waste treatment and move over to closed-cycle and waste-free technology.“
Russia currently produces around 3.5 billion tons of waste a year. Around a quarter of this is processed, less in reality, and the rest is simply incinerated or disposed of at dumps set aside for this purpose. And not all of it even makes it to the official dumps. Unfortunately, waste is often dumped just anywhere, and the number of illegal dumps is growing all the time.
We now have an accumulated total of around 90 billion tons of waste in Russia. Most of this waste has no owner. The situation today is such that we lack any clear economic incentives for comprehensive waste treatment and recycling. It works out far more advantageous in many cases to simply bury or incinerate waste than to treat it and put it back into the production process.
This results in wasteful use of our natural resources. At the same time, dumps are growing all the time and now cover a total area of more than 2,500 square kilometres.
There is no need to tell you just how this affects peoples’ living conditions, especially in the big cities, and what a big industrial resource and economic benefit we are letting slip through our fingers.
Obviously, we have to radically change this situation. Above all, we are to put in place a full-fledged regulation system and set of market and administrative instruments that would ensure effective use of waste. To put it simply, we must bring some basic order to this area. A draft law on this matter is already before the State Duma for examination.
It is very important of course to start assessing and taking into account all possible consequences of the proposed innovations and decisions right now. I want to hear during today’s meeting whether this kind of analysis has been carried out and what concrete steps have been taken. In particular, I want to hear what impact the law’s adoption would have on the cost of goods and on our industry’s competitiveness.
You are aware of business’ concerns regarding this matter. This is nothing new. The same thing is happening in all other countries too. But I want to make very clear that our task is to ensure all the necessary conditions for our industrial companies to develop rational and competent waste treatment and move over to closed-cycle and waste-free technology.
”Waste treatment and recycling is a complicated but very promising economic activity. We have to put the conditions in place for attracting investment to this sector and getting small- and medium-sized business involved.“
Other countries’ experience shows that waste treatment and recycling is a complicated but very promising economic activity. We have to put the conditions in place for attracting investment to this sector and getting small- and medium-sized business involved.
Of course this will require money, and this will inevitably have an effect on final production costs, but this is something we must do. We cannot let our huge country turn into a dump. The figures I gave show that the situation has already gone beyond all bounds.
We need to make use of the best world practice of course, and also put to use our own home-grown recycling technology, which is still relevant today. We have to look at effective mechanisms for supporting investment projects in this area. We are to develop conditions that will encourage people to invest in this sector.
Another point I want to bring to your attention is that we need not only stringent legal requirements for industry and municipal services, but also modern technical regulations. Along with this, we also should develop a genuine culture of environmental awareness in our society and sense of responsibility for the state of nature and the environment in our cities, towns, streets and yards – everywhere we live.
This is an area where we must work actively with public groups and volunteer and environmental protection organisations, and support constructive civil society initiatives. We have many organisations working in these areas, Russian and foreign organisations. We have regular contact with them and we should listen to their recommendations. We have to discuss basic proposals in this area with these organisations first, make them the subject of broad public discussion, and only then make the final decisions.