WASTE MANAGEMENT: Education and innovation can make Ukraine green again

Ukrainian businesses and government must work together to create environmentally sound and sustainable waste management strategy

WASTE MANAGEMENT: Education and innovation can make Ukraine green again
About the author: Andy Hunder is President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine
Andy Hunder
Monday, 13 March 2017 23:44

Waste management is a key environmental concern across Europe with many countries witnessing a significant increase of the amount of rubbish produced. The situation in Ukraine has already proven to be critical in some cities and towns due to a lack of proper waste collection, sorting, and recycling facilities.

Public demand calling for the closure of landfills, fueled by a lack of public awareness and understanding of the importance of waste management, further complicate the already dire situation. Few businesses have an integrated approach to waste recycling. Outdated and ineffective waste management systems and the threat to businesses now coming from Parliament proposing new legislative initiatives on waste management are contrary to the interests of investors operating in Ukraine. 


A European waste management strategy for Ukraine

The American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine actively supports Ukraine’s choice of a European approach in packaging and waste disposal. Ukraine’s Government is currently working on developing a National Waste Management Strategy, which will serve as a basis for a new regulatory framework in the sphere of waste management. Chamber Member companies have managed to escalate the issues of waste management to the Government’s agenda. The Chamber’s Working Group on Post-Consumer Waste Recycling has already provided input to the draft strategy by always highlighting the necessity to create an eco-friendly Ukraine, based on positive experience and best practices of other countries.

It is clear that the tax approach to resolve waste management issues currently promoted by some members of Parliament does not solve the problem. On the contrary, it worsens the existing problems with the recycling of municipal and packaging waste as well as separate collection in Ukraine. A new tax on waste approach would lead to higher food prices and may have a negative impact on prices of socially significant food products. It also creates corruption risks, and does not do any favors to the investment attractiveness of the country.


Handing significant responsibility to the producers

The Chamber is advocating that the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) approach is the way to deal with the waste management issue in Ukraine, under which producers are given significant responsibility – financial and/or physical – for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products. This approach shifts responsibility upstream toward the producer and away from the municipalities. Furthermore, it encompasses the provision of incentives for producers to take into account environmental considerations when designing their products.

The current waste management practices in Ukraine are resource-inefficient. The absence of a tradition to collect waste separately in Ukraine remains a key obstacle to successful reform. Thus, the implementation of educational projects and other measures for shaping public culture of separate waste collection are crucial.

Leading by example, we at the Chamber have introduced in our Kyiv office a Green Office Initiative, which consists of separate collection of waste in special cardboard boxes and its further recycling in an eco-friendly way. We highly recommend it for everyone that supports Ukraine in its green modernization process.

We believe that we can resolve the current waste management issues by ensuring a progressive waste management regulatory and legal framework; adopting the necessary draft laws and without delay approving the National Waste Management Strategy; introducing separate collection of waste combined with its proper recycling; and implementing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). It is only by uniting the efforts of the Ukrainian Government, business community and civil society that we can make Ukraine green again.

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