Separate collection: not only useful, but also money-saving

Through taking part in the separate waste collection programme, the University is scaling down the volume of garbage taken to landfills. It is aiming to increase the proportion of sorted waste. Do you want to know which university sites supply more recyclable materials, and whether their efforts are sufficient for cost-cutting using a “green” lifestyle? Then read the information provided by the Environmental Department of St Petersburg University.

Nowadays, on the territory of St Petersburg University there are 13 time-constant eco-points located in residential and educational buildings. Four of them were opened in 2018, and their installation was carried out by optimising the use of existing equipment. The work of some eco-points is maintained by student initiative, for example in buildings on 6, Makarov Street and 1-2, Ulyanovskaya Street. In total, 63% of St Petersburg University buildings are included in the separate waste collection programme.  The main work on its implementation is carried out by building-service supervisors.

Last year, most of the recyclable materials were collected in the complex of buildings on Universitetskaya Embankment and in the Campus on Botanicheskaya Street. In total, the separate waste collection programme in these buildings resulted in a saving of more than 290,000 roubles on waste collection. However, they are not the first in the overall ranking because these sites generate mostly waste. That is why the ratio of sorted garbage to municipal solid waste is not so large and amounts to only 15% and 4%, respectively. One of the leaders of the ranking is the eco-point on 9/1 Ulyanovskaya Street. This is because the canteen tenant takes part in the separate waste collection programme; and donates to the University the cardboard remaining after unpacking goods. But the real leaders in giving useful waste for recycling are the sites on 27, Izmailovsky Prospect and 58-60, Galernaya Street. The percentage of their recycled waste is the maximum possible 50-60% of the total volume of municipal solid waste.

The total amount of recyclable materials collected in 2018 was 6% of the waste volume.

The results of the separate collection programme showed that last year university students and staff collected over 590,000 roubles of recyclable materials. The fact that these materials had not been taken to the landfill made it possible for the University to save 893,000 roubles. About 85% of the total resources collected for recycling is waste paper. Students, faculty and staff of St Petersburg University gave 95 tons of waste paper and outdated documentation for recycling. The second place in the collection among main groups belongs to metal (more than 10 tons), third is glass (4.58 tons), and fourth is plastic of the first type (2.25 tons). It is noted that the volume of waste paper and scrap metal given for recycling has begun to decline gradually. This is due to the fact that over the past three years the heaps of rubbish accumulated over many years have been sorted out. Now, what was considered garbage will be recycled to become a valuable raw material for creating new products. At the same time, recyclable waste collection vehicles have to be ordered more frequently, which means that more and more university students and staff are being gradually involved in the system of separate waste collection.

In 2018, the average monthly removal of waste to the landfill decreased by 4% compared with 2017. An increase in the share of sorted and therefore not discarded waste is extremely important for the University as the tariffs for waste disposal are constantly increasing. For this very reason the total cost of waste disposal has not reduced, but grows all the time. In 2017, the monthly cost was 761,000 roubles, and in 2018 it had risen to 1.3 million roubles.

To ensure the sale of recyclable materials on favourable terms, the University signed additional agreements with the companies “Korona” and “UVI SPB”. They are based on the results of regular price monitoring. Moreover, in 2019, following the results of an electronic auction the University will buy new waste sorting tanks.

St Petersburg University pays great attention to the involvement of students and staff in the separate waste collection programme. Throughout the year, a variety of environmental events are held for University students and staff: clean-up events in the Botanical Garden of St Petersburg University; biological fairs; waste paper collecting campaigns; and eco-actions, where students set a work plan for the next year. Also, the system of separate waste collection at the University is constantly improving. It is planned to install this year additional containers for sorting garbage at the University training sites. This will further reduce the volume of waste and increase the share of recyclable materials.