Russia revisits environmental reform

Parliament of the Russian Federation rescheduled the dates for implementation of the environmental bill for the waste recycling businesses for 2 years. It was supposed to be commenced in January 1, 2017; now, the reform will come into force in January 1, 2019.

The introduced reform urged to make the used tyres recycling obligatory and forbid uncontrolled disposal of waste.

According to market participants, this step has potential of increasing appeal of the tyre recycling industry among investors in whole Russia, which may guarantee inflow of significant funds to support businesses. Despite the reform was postponed, government representatives affirm that the issue of tyre dumping won’t be left neglected.

For the last couple of years, Russia has utilized only 5-10 percent of tyres, and the legislation on recycling of solid household wastes ought to provide a solution on how compulsory utilization of the tyres could be carried out. Landfills and dumps are common areas where used tyres are stored as a waste, where they lie without appropriate management, causing environmental dangers.

Given that the majority of the state’s provinces could not achieve applicable legislative framework demanded by the introduced bill, postponement of the waste utilization legislation was a substantial step: if the reform was commenced this year, the recycling industry could face a “legal mess” already by the beginning of 2017, explains Olga Timofeeva, the chair of Russia’s State Duma Ecology and Environment Protection Committee.

Timofeeva also said that if the novel system is introduced, it would lead to abandonment of all earlier strategies; the initiative to rehabilitate landfills of Moscow Oblast has been financially supported by the government for several years. Therefore, if new legislation starts to function, it will cause cancellation of all previous efforts concerning this issue, and it won’t provide a solid alternative.

The key obstacle comes with the fact that the suggested reform demands all regions to be capable of introducing and developing their separate waste controlling system, which would establish waste-managing operators and a unique waste tariff to be paid to provide funding of waste utilization.

Nevertheless, in the majority of regions the developments necessary for legislation has not commenced yet, Timofeeva further stated.

According to the official, the government instructed all regions to inaugurate a waste-managing operator before May 1, 2018 and establish a waste tariff before June 1, 2018.

85 regions constitute Russia and they are granted various levels of political autonomy, and no uniform body working at the federal level could provide assistance or monitoring of advances on the establishment of legislative structure in any of the regions. Moreover, no penalties exist to prevent regional governors from violating set periods. Taking these facts in consideration, market participants claim that it is doubtful that two extra years will suffice to the new system ready to function.

Moscow Oblast takes leading position

Nevertheless, some of the regions made a vow to tackle the issue of tyre dumps on their own, therefore not all of the regions are going to wait for the federal legislation to be set. For instance, the press release provided by the Ministry of Trasport of Moscow Oblast, highlighted that the battle against tyre dumps will become more serious and will include the establishment of stricter accountability for corrupt tyre utilization.

Moscow Oblast has been providing almost 60,000 tonnes of used tyres each year for the recent years. Despite this enormous number, the Ministry said that the region is capable of recycling them.

Petr Kuzin, deputy Transport Minister of Moscow Oblast, says that there is a fundamental plan to transform the processing of used tyres into substance, which could be used in road development and soft tiles and paving tiles production.

In addition, he emphasized that the legislative officials of Moscow Oblast in collaboration with the Ministry  were developing a joint system for tyre recycling, sorting and collecting and finding usage for the materials gained from recycling.

According to him, segmentary steps as for waste recycling were introduced in several cities of Moscow Oblast, including Balashikha, Reutov, Odintsovo and Lyubetsy.

Kuzin stated that the novel system is expected to be developed and start functioning during 2017. There are expectations that over time, the system will be effortlessly included into federal waste management legislation.

Still, the official didn’t mention who will be responsible for payment of the waste tariff. Producers and importers of tyres are expected to take this obligation by the federal legislation. Before, the governors attempted to make citizens cover these costs by accumulating tariffs in utility bills, or by funding waste costs via regional budget.

Nevertheless, these steps failed and the problem of financing is still the dominant one.

New priority – ecology

It is noteworthy that for the last years, many enterprises, tackling tyre recycling have been exhibited by Russia’s investors and they all expected novel environmental regulation to become valid.

As an example, Republic of Karelia saw one of the biggest initiatives in the middle of 2016. In that region, a local company Ecological Center revealed proposal for investment of RUB 300 million (US $5 million) into the development of tyre recycling plant.

Investors shared their plans and said that they expected the plant to recycle 260,000 used tyres each year, in such a way manufacturing 15,500 tonnes of rubber granules.

Republic of Karelia doesn’t have a huge population, therefore it was suggested to deliver tyres from regions-neighbors so the plant could be in full operation. In such a way, the initiative had the ability to produce palpable positive eco effect on the North of Russia.

The tyre recycling would produce rubber granules, which could have been sold to urban establishments and their subcontractors, so they could be used in the development of roads, playgrounds and sport facilities.

Moreover, some merchandise was expected to find buyers, such as producers of different rubber goods, in the wider market.

High potential for investment in rubber granules was spotted by financiers, and this has led to increased demand for its manufacturing from country’s construction subcontractors and private firms working in construction.

Ecological Center suggested to create a separate tyre-collecting site at all the waste landfills. Still, it is not decided in what way the tyres would be collected there and who would provide their assortment from waste.

The resolution of this problem was expected to be found with the adoption of new legislation; given its postponement, the future of the project is under dispute.

Some resources state that the development of the plant saw little to now progress since the middle of 2016. In general, for the past two years Russia has seen a dozen plans for development of tyre-recycling plans, though very few of them have been fulfilled.

In total, these plants could be able to process 1-1.5 million used tyres each year. The figure wan’t satisfying enough to let the country diminish the areas of tyre landfills; still it was capable tp save Russia from further growth of these landfills in several regions.

Each year, Russian government sets a special focus on one specific problem – last year all efforts were spent to improve the state’s cinematography in order to increase it popularity and profitability. This year is proclaimed the year of environment and a lot of steps are going to be taken in the following months. Nevertheless, the prospect for significant improvement is not that optimistic at this stage. A lingering economic crisis still haunts Russia’s economy and sees reduced GDP, falling in every industrial performance indicators and diminished purchasing power of the people inhabiting Russia. Given this situation, new environmental fees will cause trouble both to citizens and businesses, and it may seem true that the country’s official may postpone the ultimate introduction of these measure, perhaps, until the middle of 2018, when new Presidential Election will be held.

Article source: Tyre and Rubber Recycling

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