Recycling and disposal of waste to ensure well-being of the planet
Participants of an authoritative international conference at St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University "LETI" proposed solutions for the main municipal waste management problems in Russia.
An international conference entitled “Municipal waste management as an important factor in the sustainable development of a megacity” was held at the St. Petersburg State Electrotechnical University "LETI" from 4 to 6 October.
Over 350 participants from 35 constituent entities of the Russian Federation attended the conference, including representatives of government bodies and companies that specialize in waste recycling and disposal, researchers, university lecturers, and leaders of public environmental movements. Experts from Kazakhstan, Belgium, Spain, Latvia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Korea and other countries came to LETI to share the experience.
Leonid Weisberg, Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, emphasized that waste management determines well-being of the planet and is an essential area of human activity along with energy and transport. “Domestic specialists have an understanding of what needs to be done in this industry. They have appropriate scientific developments and technologies. The main problem is that, unfortunately, these technologies take a long time to be implemented in practice. Besides, the legislative regulation of our industry is not fully ensured,” says Leonid Weisberg.
Andrei Maximov, Chairperson of the Committee on Science and Higher School of St. Petersburg, made a welcoming speech on behalf of the leadership of the St. Petersburg.
I’m happy that the Committee on Science and Higher Education is one of the organizers of today's event. It is always pleasant when colleagues come to St. Petersburg to share their achievements and discuss opportunities for cooperation and development. I hope that all promising proposals that you discuss at the conference will be implemented through joint efforts, and the event itself will become systematic and will be held in other cities.
Vladimir Korotaev, Vice-Rector for Science and Innovations of the Perm National Research Polytechnic University, noted that waste management in Russia is at the initial stage of its development. Experts have to take the first steps to improve the environmental situation: cut the number of landfills, develop ways to work on and monitor the environmental situation, introduce digital technologies and innovations, enlist the support of enterprises and authorities, build a system for training qualified personnel. The critical aspect is the transition to a closed-cycle economy, where raw materials are recycled and reused. By engaging waste in the resource cycle, such an approach will minimize waste disposal and will facilitate entry into the market of environmentally safe products.
Vladimir Maryev presented a plan for implementing the Governmental Strategy for the development recycling industry, disposal of industrial and municipal waste for the period until 2030 that will be approved by the end of 2018.
It is a document of a new era. We did everything to match it with the international Three Rs principle: reduce, reuse and recycle. We paid special attention to the improvement of legislation when it comes to secondary resources, the creation of environmental technoparks, personnel training, governmental support measures for the recycling industry development, the issues of import substitution and the development of export potential. We hope that universities will actively participate in the implementation of the strategy.
Nadezhda Mikhailova, Chief Technologist of Research and Engineering Corporation Mekhanobr-Tekhnika, closed the plenary session with her report where she presented promising solutions in the field of municipal solid waste disposal. These solutions will make it possible to obtain RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel) for use in industry, for example, in cement plants.
Scientific discussions and exchange of experience continued at breakout sessions. Experts from Moscow, Kazan, Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Chelyabinsk, Ulan-Ude, Vladikavkaz, Tambov and Donetsk shared their experience in recycling waste in their regions in the section devoted to the current state of the waste management system.
In the second section, specialists from industrial enterprises and universities in Russia, Latvia and the USA presented the latest technological developments and modern approaches in the field of processing, recycling and disposal of waste in various fields of activity, including coal mining and wastewater treatment.
Problems of incineration and environmental legislation, environmental and fire safety of waste management facilities, interaction of businesses and public organizations, and personnel training have also led to an active discussion at breakout sessions.
Our conference became a unique discussion platform where representatives of all parties interested in solving environmental problems could express their point of view and listen to each other. During the conference, the participants identified the main problems that impede the solution of waste disposal tasks such as the lack of information necessary deal with public opinion, the lack of qualified personnel and an incomplete legal framework. At the same time, Russia has a powerful scientific and technological potential that will contribute to the improvement of the environmental situation.
Scientists of ETU "LETI" demonstrated laboratory experiments with the use of microwave technologies to conference participants at the Faculty of Information Measurement and Biotechnical Systems on the last day of the conference. In the first experiment, the old railway sleepers, impregnated with a toxic substance, turned into clean sawlog in a short time. In the second one, LETI scientists turned boards and wires into pure copper and other commodity metals with the help of laser cleaning.
An excursion to the automated waste-collection complex was organized for the guests of the event. “The conference participants saw all the stages of sorting solid household waste with their own eyes and were impressed by the fact that there is no smell at this unique enterprise due to the use of modern biotechnology,” says Alexander Boronakhin.