Argument (#11 November 2018)

Challenges and Problems of Solid Waste in Ukraine

Vitaliya Karhova

It is a well-known fact that the issue of solid waste in Ukraine is permanently under discussion, and unfortunately, the problem is still not being solved. However, Ukraine is on its way to finding a solution to this issue.

It should be noted that for more than 25 years of independence, Ukrainian Governments have stubbornly closed their eyes to problems with solid waste, which resulted in negative consequences in different cities of Ukraine.

Lviv, as one of the most tourist-friendly cities, has been suffering for months from improper disposal of several hundred tons of the waste that is produced every single day. Moreover, municipal officials could not collect and recycle trash because of the restricted access to nearby landfills. This is sad evidence of the importance of the implementation of the country’s solid waste management strategy at national level, which would prevent our country from ecological disaster.

On 8 November 2017, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved the Ukrainian National Waste Management Strategy until 2030, pursuant to which it is intended to establish regional waste disposal centres.

With regard to implementation of the above-mentioned strategy, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine has announced the establishment of a coordination council responsible for the National Waste Management Strategy up till 2030. This agency will act as a temporary consultative authority of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on matters regarding drafting and adopting new legislation within the new model of waste management in Ukraine.

The National Waste Management Strategy defines the main directions of state regulation in the field of waste management until 2030, taking into consideration effective EU regulations, namely Directives defining the main principle of waste management, inter alia (1) Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste, repealing certain Directives; (2) Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 on waste landfills; (3) Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the management of waste from extraction industries, amending Directive 2004/35/EC; (4) Directive 94/62/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 1994 on packaging and packaging waste.

“In the absence of a clear state policy and waste management system for 25 years, Ukraine has almost become choked in garbage, and not only in households. Problems with other waste groups, such as industrial or hazardous ones, are much more complicated. It is about negative consequences both for the environment and for the health of citizens. The newly-established Coordination Council will help to coordinate the actions of central and local authorities in the process of establishing and implementing a new waste management system in Ukraine,” commented Ostap Semerak, the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine referring to approval of the National Waste Management Strategy.

It is worth mentioning that Ukraine seeks to increase the volume of waste processing, create safe landfills for the storage of domestic waste, and track whether or not the waste is stored illegally.

Upon successful implementation of the strategy, it is planned to establish about 800 processing enterprises, 250 centers for collection of solid waste in 5,000 settlements by 2030.

Local governments (authorities) will be responsible for deciding how to dispose of waste in each respective region.

Furthermore, in order to achieve this goal, regional waste management plans should be established locally. Theoretically, regional administrations will divide the region into clusters, create routes for the removal of waste and options for the recycling of solid waste.

Another important problem is illegal recycling and storage of waste. Unfortunately, the fine for illegal waste management for legal entities is UAH 1,700 (about USD 60). However, some municipal authorities propose that this sum be increased to UAH 34,000.

Based on the experience of certain EU countries, the cost of constructing environment-friendly landfills falls on the shoulders of consumers. On average, the average European individual pays about EUR 40-50 per ton of waste. By comparison, the same services in Ukraine are provided to Ukrainians for about UAH 130 (in Kyiv Region, which is around USD 5).

Import and export of solid wastes

Taking into consideration the problem with storage and disposal of solid waste, lack of available landfills, the export of solid waste to developed countries could be a possible solution.

It should be noted that the import and export of solid waste involves observance of some terms stipulated by legislation.

The main legislative act, which governs this kind of operations, is the Law of Ukraine On Waste of 5 March 1988 No. 187/98 (as amended), Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 198 of 20 March 1995 and Resolution No. 1120 of 13 July 2000.

However, in order to comply with the provisions for the import or export of solid waste, the applicant has to pass a complex procedure.

Moreover, to be able to make such transactions, a wide range of permits has to be obtained.

This is provided that not all potential investors will be interested in such a complex procedure for exporting our waste for recycling somewhere else.

For a better understanding of the procedure there are some steps that need to be taken by a potential investor.

As a rule, a conclusion of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources confirming whether the waste belongs to hazardous or non-hazardous wastes needs to be obtained. Solid waste is considered as waste, which requires individual consideration.

First of all, an exporter who intends to export hazardous waste needs to contact the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources with an official letter at least 70 days prior to the planned date for their first transportation and submit the required number of completed notification forms, as well as the following documents:

confirmation that the exporter has a license to carry out the relevant operations for handling and disposing of hazardous waste proposed for export;

a statement on the origin and composition of the waste and, if necessary (to the request of the Ministry of Environment), an analysis report;

a statement of the person responsible for recycling/disposal (description of the disposal/disposal method, capacity and location of the authorized facility, validity of the permit for its operation);

a notarized copy of the contract between the exporter and the person responsible for recycling/disposal, which specifies the methods for the environmental management of waste and which should contain the following statements:

— obligation of the parties to take responsibility for any adverse consequences resulting from misreporting, improper waste management, accidents or other unforeseen events, including alternative waste recycling/disposal activities in an environmental manner or re-importing waste in the event that the original conditions of the contract cannot be met;

— obligation of the person responsible for recycling/disposal to confirm receipt of the waste within three working days (which means the dispatch to the exporter and the competent authorities of the states of a copy of the completed transport document);

— obligation of the person responsible for recycling/disposal to confirm the expiry of the waste recycling/disposal operations within 180 days of receipt of the waste (that is, the dispatch to the exporter and the competent authorities of the states concerned of the copy of the completed transport document);

On top of that, a potential investor also needs to submit a description of the transport route and a statement on insurance of the liability of the exporter for compensation for any harm that may be caused to human health, property and the environment in the cross-border transportation of hazardous waste.

In special cases for repeat export, there is a requirement on obtaining written consent of the interested state for a period of not more than one year if the waste has the same physical and chemical characteristics, or is regularly supplied by the same person responsible for recycling, through the same checkpoints across the state border on departure from Ukraine and at the entrance to the state of import.  The timeframe for submission of the documents by the exporter to the competent authorities of the states concerned constitutes three days before each dispatch of hazardous waste.

The procedure itself looks competent, but as mentioned before, the variety of documents needed to be prepared and all kinds of permits to be granted from different forms of local and state authorities is certainly not an easy process for potential investors because of its complexity.

In order to comply with European standards, Ukraine needs to amend current legislation within the priorities of simplification of such procedures for potential investors, implement more severe consequences for the violation of legislation governing waste management, promote construction of waste processing plants, and adjust waste sorting requirements into line with international practice.

This significant work on implementation of all waste management plans proposed by the Government can be considered as a further step to our clean and waste free environment.


Vitaliya Karhova is an attorney, counsel at ADER HABER

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