Recycling instead of landfilling and the demand for recyclable materials

Recycling instead of landfilling and the demand for recyclable materials

From January 1, 2024, new rules for waste disposal came into force in Russia as part of the updated extended producer responsibility (EPR) mechanism. Manufacturers and importers of goods will be required to dispose of waste generated from their products and submit relevant reports by April 2025. For this purpose, registers of recycling companies will be created that will be able to offer their recycling services. The environmental factors in the new rules ensure that disposal costs are lower than paying an environmental fee.

To be included in the register, companies must undergo a free government audit. Specialists from the Russian Environmental Operator and Rosprirodnadzor will conduct a joint on-site assessment. The application can be submitted through the federal state information system for accounting for waste from the use of goods (EFGIS UOIT), the operator of which is REO. It can be accessed through the government services portal.

The recycling company must provide information about itself in the application, including what waste it processes, what equipment it uses, what production capacity it has, and what products it produces as a result of recycling. The application must be accompanied by title documents for the equipment and technological regulations of the enterprise.

The application review period is 10 business days, after which a refusal may be issued if erroneous or missing data is discovered. If the outcome is positive, a day for an on-site assessment is scheduled. All stages of service provision, including documentation analysis and on-site assessment, take a total of 30 working days. In exceptional cases, the duration of the service can be extended to six months: first, documents are analyzed, and if an assessment is not possible, the company is included in the register and checked within six months.

According to the general director of REO Denis Butsaev, there are about 600 waste disposal organizations in Russia that are capable of working within the framework of the EPR. Companies can voluntarily submit applications to be included in a special register. Already, more than 50 enterprises have done this.

On February 15, the Russian government gave the REO new powers allowing it to participate in inspections of such companies. As a result, Rosprirodnadzor will now involve representatives of REOs in inspections. During on-site inspections, it is also planned to use remote interaction via video communication.

“It happens that recycling companies provide incomplete information or not all the necessary documentation, which is why they receive a refusal. We are carrying out explanatory work on the new EPR rules on behalf of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources, interacting with Rosprirodnadzor. In particular, we hold explanatory meetings in the regions of Russia; we have already held more than 100 such meetings,” said the head of the REO.

As Igor Zabralov, Director for Sustainable Development of REO, noted, manufacturers and importers who plan to produce goods and packaging this year will have to ensure their disposal by April 2025. Only authorized recyclers will be able to provide recycling reports through the EFSIS UOIT system. “This eliminates the possibility of counterfeit disposal reports and makes the recycling process as transparent as possible,” he believes.

Under EPR rules, producers are not required to enter into contracts with recycling companies and can instead pay an environmental fee, although this will be twice as expensive for those with the highest environmental quotient. The fact is that the amount of the environmental fee from January 2024 is determined on the basis of the base rate and the environmental coefficient. The less environmentally friendly the packaging, the higher the environmental fee. The environmental quotient depends on four factors that influence waste management: recovery rate, technological feasibility of recycling, recycling of the material and the need for recyclable materials. Each of these criteria has a value of either 0 or 0.25 this year, meaning the maximum green factor is 2.

The new rules are still being worked out: in the near future, it is expected to publish additional regulatory documents that will regulate the reporting of manufacturers, the value of the reduction factor for recyclable materials, the ban on non-recyclable goods and packaging, as well as the integration of electronic trading platforms with the EFSIS UOIT.

According to experts, in the coming years the trend towards accelerated development of processing enterprises will continue, and the supply of raw materials will increase significantly. This will largely be possible thanks to the reform of the EPR, which is aimed at increasing the investment attractiveness of the waste management sector, modernizing existing sorting centers and stable demand for raw materials.

Executive Director of the SOEMZ plant Dmitry Gutman called the creation of the register good news. The company produces packaging from waste paper, which is also used for paper cups.

“It is the on-site events that confirm capacity that will rid the industry of the already established concept of “unscrupulous recyclers.” REO guarantees with its authority that the register will contain companies that can be trusted. “We have several partners who are waiting for acts of disposal of this unusual fraction from us, knowing that we really recycle such waste,” he noted.

Recyclers represented by container glass manufacturers support this initiative, said Eduard Taran, president of RATM Holding, which includes the Siberian Glass plant, the largest recycler of glass waste in Siberia. “Confirmation of the availability of recycling capacities will eliminate the participation of unscrupulous companies in the implementation of EPR. This will reduce the proportion of useful waste that accumulates in landfills and will also prevent the emergence of illegal garbage dumps,” Taran said.

The result will be an increase in the amount of waste recycled, allowing glass factories using cullet to reduce the energy intensity of their processes and reduce their industrial environmental footprint, he added.

Photo: media bank PPK REO

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