Every year, Russia loses two billion euros' worth of potential revenue from recyclables and energy generation. The country’s recycling rate is four percent, compared to an EU average of 47 percent, and landfills occupy over 4 million hectares, or nearly as much land as Switzerland.
The IFC Russia Resource Efficiency Program, the World Bank’s Footprint Program, and IFC partner Masterslavl hoped to start to change that with a recent one-day event on waste reduction and recycling for staff and their children.
“A well-known quote of Mahatma Gandhi states: ‘If you want to change the world, start with yourself,’” Patrick Luternauer, Regional Business Line Manager for Sustainable Business Advisory, said at the WBG Moscow office during the event. “Well, we want to attract attention to the topic of waste reduction and recycling in Russia and we’re starting with ourselves – our own children and staff.”
During the event, kids participated in a recycling relay and took master classes on how to reuse and recycle the most common waste objects. Their parents watched the documentary film "No Impact Man," from the IFC Footprint Library collection. The screening triggered an engaging discussion on personal commitments to reducing our waste and recycling.
“The topic of waste reuse and recycling is very important for Russia and it is wonderful that we introduced it to our children,” said Maria Kuznetsova, Associate Operations Officer, IFC's Russia Resource Efficiency Program. “With this knowledge I am sure they will become master recyclers.”
For now, Russia's culture of recycling and waste recovery is poor. The majority of its waste is landfilled, and every third landfill site is unsanitary and poorly managed – essentially, a dump. The main problems are low public awareness and the absence of effective waste management policies and private sector incentives.
IFC and IBRD are working to promote a greater public culture of waste-consciousness. We are also working to increase sustainable solid waste management practices among municipalities and private sector operators and provide recommendations to Russian government bodies on sustainable policies.
In addition, the WBG works to reduce its own footprint, including improving the energy efficiency of its offices, decreasing use of paper, office supplies and water, and increased recycling.