Waste that does not decompose naturally and that cannot be recycled — or at least neutralised — should not be released into the environment.
There is a general assumption that waste comprises substances or mixtures of substances that are unsuitable for further use. But things are not so simple:
Human beings are now producing so much waste that it is rapidly destroying natural balances that have been established over millions of years of life on the planet.
The study of material life cycles — from manufacture to final disposal — can help us to better understand the waste problem. Materials are transformed into waste because of various production and consumption processes. During this transformation, substances released into the air or water are referred to as emissions, while the remaining residues are categorised as waste. Waste can be re-used, recycled, processed (to limit its adverse effects), burned (to reduce its volume), or disposed of in landfills.
Waste varies according to:
There are several ways to reduce and dispose of waste:
All waste treatment methods have certain environment effects, thus the most effective way to tackle the problem is to take a responsible approach to waste generation. We have an impact every time we make a new purchase and throw away rubbish, and there are several things we can do to improve the situation:
Belarus produces about 1,400 types of waste annually.
Excluding waste from potash ore, waste comprises the following (proportions by weight):
Mining and industrial waste currently occupies 2,000 hectares of land.
The separate collection and recycling of municipal waste remain problematic. At present, the share of useful components extracted from municipal waste does not exceed 16 percent.
In recent years there has been a positive trend in the use of
production waste. Today, 80 percent of waste is used (excluding halite
waste and clay-salt slurry). Vegetable and animal waste is easiest to recycle. It is common practice in agriculture to use waste from the production of food and flavouring agents:
At the end of 2010, Belarusian enterprises were storing 7,571 tonnes of hazardous waste (Classes I to III). Most of this waste comprised used mercury lamps and fluorescent tubes. Various companies were storing 1.34 million spent mercury lamps and fluorescent tubes.
Belarus generated 3,087 tonnes of household waste in 2010.
Municipal waste is buried in special landfills. Industrial waste, household waste and some non-hazardous production waste (Classes III and IV) are also taken to landfill sites. There are currently 171 municipal solid waste landfill sites in Belarus, with at least one in each district and sometimes as many as two or three. There are also 3,087 small landfills that receive municipal waste from villages.
Waste management programmes in Belarus are developed and implemented at the level of administrative units. Such programmes include activities related to the collection, disposal and/or use of waste, and the improvement of technological processes aimed at eliminating or reducing waste volumes. The programmes identify the main areas of work as the implementation of priority measures for waste management; the use of waste as secondary materials; the increased use of recyclable materials; the construction of waste treatment and disposal facilities; and the introduction of pollution prevention methods for waste management personnel based on an analysis of the current situation and in accordance with the principles of state environmental policy.
The waste management programmes are developed on the basis of the Constitution of Belarus, the national Law on Environmental Protection, the Law on Waste Management, and the National Action Plan for the Management of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus.
A useful resource on waste issues in Belarus is: otxody.by.
Information about the EU EuropeAid project "Waste management in Belarus" can be found at: www.wastegovernance.org.
A report on policy objectives in the field of solid municipal waste management, developed under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme, can be found at: www.greenlogic.by.
A number of organisations in Belarus are carrying out projects and programmes in the field of waste management: