Waste dilemma: regional operators complain about low tariffs and unprofitable separate waste collection

Performance of the first year of the new law on waste collection is summed up in Tatarstan

Russia switched to a new municipal solid waste collection in accordance with a new federal law almost a year ago. The territory of every region was divided into regional operators’ zones of responsibility, and everyone who produces waste (both natural and juridical persons) are obliged to sign an agreement with the operator of its zone and monthly pay for waste collection. The results of the waste reform were summed up in the republican Ministry of Construction on 24 December. However, as Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent made sure, the discussion turned into a traditional piteous groan of regional operators about unprofitability and insufficiently high tariffs.

1,6 million tonnes of waste a year

According to Vice Minister of Construction of the Republic of Tatarstan Ildus Nasyrov, there is over 1,6 million tonnes or 12,4 million cubic metres of municipal solid waste in the republic a year. Two regional operators working in the eastern (Grinta) and western (Housing and Public Utilities Managing Company) zones provide the services to the population and juridical persons.

Grinta’s clients are 1,923 million people who annually produce 743,000 tonnes of waste. Housing and Public Utilities Managing Company is responsible for 21 districts and Kazan, which is about two million clients who make 880,000 tonnes of waste a year. Moreover, Kazan accounts for 560,000 tonnes.

There were placed more than 26,000 waste bins across the republic to collect waste. Moreover, according to Ildus Nasyrov, another 20,000 waste bins are needed.

“9 out of 49 sites for MSW collection sites located in Tatarstan don’t have a licence at the moment, we work together with municipalities to solve this problem,” Nasyrov added.

Residents of 259 settlements of Tatarstan are at the moment free of payment for waste collection because of the absence of normal roads waste operators can’t get to them. Vice Director of Housing and Public Utilities Managing Company Almir Kurbanov, it is small settlements with a population of 5-10 people.

No waste collapse

Ildus Nasyrov says that there wasn’t any waste collapse in Tatarstan that was seen in some regions after switching to the new system of work.

“It is mainly merit of regional operators. They managed to engage all enterprises and establishments that dealt with the waste collection before Federal Law No. 89 came into force into the new scheme of work. And it is serious infrastructure including specialists, landfill sites and machinery,” Nasyrov reminded.

For instance, Clean City company remains one of the biggest waste market players, which is now operating as general contractor of the western operator of Housing and Public Utilities Managing Company.

“Separate waste collection is unprofitable at the moment”

Separate waste collection deserves special attention. Most citizens of Kazan are already familiar with it: about 80% of waste collection sites are equipped with waste bins for separate waste collection. In the republic in general separate waste collection is possible only on 21% of sites situated in 24 municipalities.

Representatives of the regional operators aren’t happy about separate waste collection. They honestly admit that sales revenue of recyclable materials doesn’t cover costs linked with separate collection and sorting.

“For us, it is an additional load, we have to do two laps, the first for solid waste, the second for non-sorted waste, costs increase. Unfortunately, today waste sorting doesn’t make a profit. Moreover, the better sorting the higher the losses. Such waste as PET, paper, cardboard, glass lay on the surface. It is sold easily, while there isn’t demand for other waste, and their sale doesn’t benefit. It is early at the moment to talk about sales revenue of recyclables materials in general,” Almir Kurbanov admitted. “We placed waste bins for separate waste collection, but go and look at what is inside. 80% of yards in Kazan have waste bins for separate waste collection. There is a way to go for them to have what we need. And even if citizens will put what it must be there we will anyway have to take their content for sorting. For instance, another 30% of what turns out in bins for PET bottles has to be thrown away because it is not what is needed. For instance, bottle corks need to be pulled out, it is another type of recyclable materials, there must be sorting by colour and so on. Sorting in general doesn’t generate a big profit and is a load. We are often asked in municipalities when we will launch separate waste collection there, I reply that unless there is a waste sorting station, this is pointless.

Director of Grinta Svetlana Yarlychenko agrees with the colleague.

“If you threw plastic bottles into the rake waste bin, you didn’t sort it. There are 12 types of plastic, and it needs to be sorted additionally. Even usual plastic cups have different marking, and some of them don’t fit for recycling. And before putting bottles into the rake waste bin, one should wash them, pull out the cap and smash it. Do many people do it? The same thing happens to paper: newspapers, magazines, cardboard, corrugated fibreboard, this is all different types of waste,” Svetlana Yarlychenko explained.

Landfill reserves in western zone will be enough for 3-4 years

The regional operators have other problems too. The reserves of landfills are about to end. According to representatives of Housing and Public Utilities Managing Company, the reserves of two of its landfills (Vostochny and Khimicheskaya) will be enough for 3-4 years, no more.

“We should think about what will be further, either to build new landfills or decide to build the waste incineration plant. Our company doesn’t deal with this issue, this is why I won’t comment on the possible construction. But now Kazan us surrounded by landfills and cemeteries, it is necessary to look for new ways of disposing of waste, and the construction of such plants is probably a solution,” Almir Kurbanov noted.

Another problem is that there isn’t leverage for violators: those who refuse to pay for waste collection and disposal.

“If the water supply, heat supply or electricity supply organisation has a knife switcher or valve, we don’t have such instruments,” Kurbanov complains. “Companies that often occupy the first floor in blocks of flats (as a rule, it is small shops) ignore the obligation of signing agreements, use waste bins of blocks of flats or dispose of waste into suburban settlements and unload it into waste bins placed there.”

Plans for construction of new landfills, purchase equipment and waste bins

The eastern regional operator Grinta plans to create two inter-municipal waste collection complexes, each of which will have a waste sorting plant with a capacity of no less than 350,000 tonnes, an MSW landfill and an eco-technopark for recyclable materials. The regional operator is obliged to do all this according to a territorial scheme of waste collection adopted in the republic. Grinta also plans to purchase dustcarts for 250 million rubles.

Housing and Public Utilities Managing Company plans to purchase new machinery too (18 dustcarts, lift and tipper lorries). Also, it is planned to build new waste collection sites, purchase waste bins, start to design waste sorting stations.

“According to the territorial scheme, we will have to create three inter-municipal landfills: in Arsk, Apastovo and Alekseyevsk Districts as well as 21 waste transfer stations,” Almir Kurbanov added.

One of the lowest tariffs in Russia but excluding investment component

Residents of the republic pay 71,95 rubles per capita a month in high-rises and 78,05 rubles in private houses for waste collection. The amount of payment is based on the norm of waste accumulation and the tariff that’s equal to 439,03 rubles per cubic metres. Over 11 months, the payments for MSW collection in Tatarstan has been 89%, moreover, natural persons are more disciplined payers than juridical persons.

“In comparison with other Russian regions, it is quite a high collection,” Ildus Nasyrov stressed.

Grinta’s collection is estimated at 91%, including natural persons with 92,2% and juridical persons with 76%. The collection in Housing and Public Utilities Managing Company is 87% for natural persons and 77% for juridical.

It is supposed that the tariff on MSW collection will grow by 4% from 1 July. The current tariffs in Tatarstan are one of the lowest in the country. According to the representatives of both companies, the payment doesn’t include an investment component, this is why its size doesn’t pass muster with the regional operators.

“We will create a big number of infrastructure facilities. And if there is no support from the budget, it will be hard to perform these tasks with the current tariffs,” Almir Kurbanov concluded.

By Vitaly Akhmerov