Solutions 14:41 01 Sep 2023

How to help communities deal with garbage: the cases of Slavutych and Konotop

Rubryka learned how, with the expert support of the U-LEAD Program with Europe, communities will modernize their landfills to increase the percentage of waste recycling and reduce the environmental damage of landfills.

What is the problem?

Before the full-scale war in Ukraine, there were 15.6 billion tons of industrial and household waste. Landfills already occupy more than 9,000 hectares of Ukraine's territory. As for the waste generation rate in Ukraine, 2017 averaged 250 to 300 kilograms per person per year.

At the same time, only a small part of household waste is processed in Ukraine. Generally, household waste is buried in landfills — 95% of its volume.

Unfortunately, due to enemy shelling, cars, buildings, and infrastructure objects are turned into garbage daily in Ukraine. Therefore, the amount of waste is only increasing.

What is the solution?

In July 2023, the law On Waste Management entered into force. The law aimed to diminish the amount of garbage at landfills.

Ukrainian communities should build waste management systems in which household waste will be much more recycled.

To increase the capacity of communities in this matter, U-LEAD with Europe introduced the training program Steps for Specialists in 2022-2023. Waste management.

What is waste management?

The law on waste management defines the waste management system as a set of measures for the collection, transportation, and processing (recovery, including sorting, and removal) of household waste, including the creation and maintenance of facilities, their supervision, and further care of household waste disposal facilities, as well as the activities of business entities that carry out separate household waste management operations within the boundaries of a territorial community or several territorial communities.

What is happening with waste management in Ukraine?

Oleh Chernysh, the adviser on municipal investments of the U-LEAD with Europe Program, told Rubryka that, at the moment, the waste management system in Ukraine is being brought into line with European practice and legislation. "For now, waste management is not a priority task for communities, but after Ukraine's victory, it will be one of the main tasks facing the country," Chernysh believes. "The waste of destruction, generated as a result of the restoration works, will be added to the household waste traditionally generated by the communities."

He clarifies that the National Waste Management Strategy assumes that 50% of waste will be directed to recycling, and to achieve this indicator, each community must also implement a set of appropriate measures. Accordingly, communities must have local waste management plans.

That is why U-LEAD with Europe introduced the Steps for Specialists. Waste management training program  — primarily to help communities develop comprehensive waste management projects.

Forty-eight communities took part in the first stage of the educational program, which began in fall 2022. Already in December, communities formulated their project ideas, and the 12 best ideas advanced to the next stage of the program.

During the second stage, communities worked out project ideas in more detail, and nine communities reached the finals with ready-made waste management projects, Chernysh says. These are five urban communities — Konotopska, Slavutytska, Boryslavska, Horodotska, and Kopychenetska; one settlement — Solonytsivska and three rural communities — Berezanska, Saksahanska, Kurnenska.

Rubryka talked to representatives of two of these most determined communities and found out exactly how they plan to solve the long-standing garbage problem at the level of the entire state.

Slavutych case

Recipe for a small town on the border: to be active and look for like-minded people

"Our project idea is grandiose," says Iryna Plavynska, chief specialist of the department for housing and communal services, tariff formation, energy efficiency, and energy saving of the Slavutych City Council.

The scale is that the Slavutych project covers all waste management stages, from collection to processing and disposal.

"The new law requires us to make complex decisions. In general, I think we should become more eco-conscious," says Serhii Minin, director of the Housing and Communal Center.

Slavutych is a young city founded in 1986, the year of the Chornobyl disaster, for workers of the nuclear power plant. Accordingly, the main budget-generating enterprise was the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which has not been operating since 2001. Therefore, the community needs to be very active to be able to develop, says Plavynska: "Our community tries to participate in various projects, be interested, and learn new practices and ideas. No one will help us except ourselves — we are a remote and small city of 24.5 thousand inhabitants. The number has become even smaller after the start of a full-scale invasion."

Serhii Minin adds that the community had a vision that a waste management system should be implemented, and they were looking for who to do it with. The community has already cooperated with U-LEAD with Europe. For example, thanks to the program, one of the first gasoline generators for schools and kindergartens appeared in Slavutych, a set of road equipment was delivered, and the cooperation was fruitful. "Therefore, when this project and the opportunity to join arose, we talked with the mayor, created a group, and started training.

навчальна програма

In the photo: Serhii Minin with a certificate for participation in the training program U-LEAD with Europe / Photo provided by Iryna Plavynska

The working group included employees of the specialized department of the executive committee of the Slavutych City Council and communal enterprises Housing and Communal Center and Regional Development Agency. After a year of training, says Minin, the project participants already know how the city deals with garbage, what to do with it, and where to go.

"The city of Slavutych did a great job; they worked late into the night and on weekends, but they developed a thorough and detailed project," adds Minin.

Since the project is large-scale — its estimated budget is  ₴124 million, it was divided into two components: updating the infrastructure of household waste processing and updating the infrastructure of collection and transportation of household waste.

The first component concerns the landfill and is at the design stage. A technical task has already been developed for the designer selected by the European partners — active meetings are currently taking place to agree on all the details.

As for funds, the city council is developing a project application for participation in the LIFE program. It is a financial instrument of the European Union for implementing measures to protect the environment and combat climate change. One of its priorities for Ukraine in 2023 is projects of comprehensive orientation to new ecological infrastructure related to waste management in cities.

How the landfill in Slavutych will change

One part is being reclaimed, and the other is being reconstructed

управління відходами у громадах

In the photo: The current appearance of the solid waste landfill in Slavutych / Photo provided by Iryna Plavynska

Minin explains that the landfill was built in 1986 when the city itself was laid out and is still in operation today and is already partially filled. Taking garbage to Vyshgorod is very expensive, and the Chernihiv landfill does not have the physical capacity to receive Slavutych garbage. This issue is really acute for the community.

The project envisages a partial reconstruction of the Slavutych landfill in accordance with new environmental requirements.

How will it be done? The landfill territory is divided into two parts: one part will be recultivated — these lands will be restored, and the second part will be equipped with an updated landfill. A protective membrane, a special textile, will be laid there, which prevents the penetration of leachates into the soil, explains Minin. They will also arrange the removal of associated gases formed due to the landfill operation.

At the landfill, they plan to build a composting site for bio-waste and purchase machinery for compacting waste.

Currently, the permitted height of waste storage here is 9.8 meters, and it is planned to obtain a permit for 20 meters.

"Accordingly, these will be certain construction works, renewal of the road to the landfill, renewal of engineering networks and buildings that serve the landfill," the Housing and Communal Center director lists the other components of the project.

управління відходами у громадах

In the photo: The city has such sorting sites now./Photo provided by Iryna Plavynska

According to Plavynska, the city needs to buy new sorting containers, update garbage collection sites, and buy new garbage trucks.

управління відходами у громадах

Such sites are foreseen by the new project.

Both earlier and this year, the city authorities surveyed locals, who testified that up to 90% of people are ready to sort waste and want to see not only a separate collection of garbage and its separate removal but also the results of such a collection: how much plastic, paper and other materials the city collected.

What will interaction with other communities bring?

To implement the project, Slavutych interacts with other Chernihiv communities. After all, although the landfill belongs to the city, it is located on the territory of the Chernihiv region. The peculiarity of the city is that it administratively belongs to the Kyiv region but is actually located in the Chernihiv region.

The surrounding communities are partners for Slavutych, and last year's experience of the short-term occupation of the city showed this very well, recalls Iryna Plavynska: "Neighboring communities helped us a lot when we were blockaded here for three weeks, without food supplies."

Nearby Chernihiv communities currently do not have landfills for waste disposal at all. Therefore, thanks to cooperation, they will have such an opportunity, and Slavutych's budget will provide additional funds, predicts Minin.

In general, the desire of the community to do something is essential for the success of any project, and Slavutych has it, Plavynska told Rubryka.

Konotop case

"There was some training, but the program took us to a new level"

The issue of waste management is probably relevant for every community now. In almost every city, landfills are running out of resources, and there is a lot of garbage in medium-sized and large cities. "We are trying to sort and have installed several different types of containers, but unfortunately, the problem with the landfill has not escaped us. It has almost exhausted its resources, and soon, we need to settle it," says Lyudmyla Gapeeva, the head of the economy department of the Konotop City Council.

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Fragment of the presentation of the Konotop community project/ The presentation was provided by the Department of Economy of the Konotop City Council

Understanding this problem, the community began to produce basic documentation for the landfill and identified a site with such a target purpose.

According to Gapeeva, at first, they thought about a landfill only for the Konotop community, but with the help of the training program from U-LEAD with Europe, they managed to reach the regional level, look at the problem more broadly, and reorient.

This was prompted by the Regional Waste Management Plan in the Sumy Region until 2030, approved in November 2022. According to it, three regional landfills for communities within the Sumy, Shostka, and Konotop-Romensky clusters are provided for in the region.

The Konotop-Romensky cluster includes 16 communities, including the city of Konotop. This is a total of more than 300,000 people.

управління відходами у громадах

Fragment of the presentation of the Konotop community project/ The presentation was provided by the Department of Economy of the Konotop City Council

"Our community has a principled position: we study all modern educational programs and best practices and adopt them to be able to bring something positive to our development," says Gapeeva about participating in the Steps for Specialists program. Waste management.

A team was formed in the community, which included experts from the departments of economy and housing and communal services, other departments, and the head of the city council's department of economy, Gapeeva, as its coordinator.

How was the project of the improved landfill developed?

During training under the program Steps for Specialists. Waste Management, the community team studied the experience of Ukrainian and European communities, collected analytics and statistics, consulted with the experts of U-LEAD with Europe, and finally formed the project "Construction of a complex of a regional improved landfill for the storage of the solid household waste with an access road in the Konotop city territorial community."

управління відходами у громадах

The map shows the approximate area of the landfill and the road to it./ Fragment of the presentation provided by the Department of Economy of the Konotop City Council

During the development, negotiations were held, and memoranda were signed with several communities, including a Memorandum of Intent for the joint implementation of the waste management project in communities with the city of Romny, says the project coordinator.

The partner of the economic management of the Konotop City Council is the non-governmental organization Interregional Institute of Community Development. It also joined the development of the project, particularly its communication part.

"Our organization has long and thoroughly taken care of the issues of ecology and energy efficiency," says Yuliya Kyrychenko, a member of the board of the public organization Interregional Institute of Community Development. "We are actively conducting a survey of our community regarding the issue of solid household waste in the city. At the moment, the situation with the landfill is difficult. There are spontaneous landfills on the territory of the community. The issue of implementing such projects is relevant for our community, as evidenced by the results of our surveys."

Kyrychenko adds that since the project has great social significance, it is important to involve the widest range of interested persons.

The approximate budget of the project is ₴360 million.

"This is a large-scale project. The city authorities are actively looking for financing for it," says Kyrychenko. The Interregional Institute of Community Development also helps in this, participating in preparing the application for the LIFE project from the European Union.

Currently, the project is at the stage of producing design and estimate documentation. In general, it is planned to be implemented in four years.

The new regional landfill is supposed to meet modern requirements, as the experts suggested that the project should include special composting sites and a sorting line.

"I don't want to repeat the negative experience of Lviv a few years ago when the collapse happened. Everyone understands that something must be done. That's why we are making maximum efforts," Gapeeva shared with Rubryka.

This article was published as part of the Voice of Communities campaign, which is part of the Program for Ukraine on local empowerment, accountability, and development U-LEAD with Europe, jointly funded by the EU and its member states Germany, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, and Slovenia to support Ukraine on its way to strengthening local self-government. U-LEAD promotes transparent, accountable, and multi-level governance in Ukraine that responds to the needs of citizens and empowers communities.


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