Kazakhstan Seeks a Greener Nation through Circular Economy

ASTANA – Because the share of environmentally-conscious citizens will grow from year to year, the first step to becoming a greener nation is understanding the need to separate food and household wastes, said Minister of Environment and Water Resources Nurlan Kapparov at a June 4 press conference.

In Kazakhstan, there is no system so far of separate collection of municipal solid waste (MSW) and as a consequence, big volumes of wastes are accumulated in the landfills across the country. To solve the problem, the minister said it is necessary to create certain conditions, beginning with establishing two urns in every yard to separate food scraps and household wastes. In the capital, such urns will appear within two years.

Kapparov noted while Europe came to this understanding 30 years ago, Kazakhstan is still at the very beginning. The republic’s government recently approved a programme for modernisation of solid waste management through 2050. In developing the document, domestic ecologists studied the experience of EU countries in waste management.

“We are interested in the so-called principle of circular economy, which stimulates maximum involvement of secondary resources in the economy,” the minister explained.

The programme adopted by the government will be implemented in three stages. According to the minister, the development of the industry will require considerable time, including restructuring the consciousness of the population. The document set the goal to achieve a 10-percent index of separate collection of wastes by 2020 and an 80-percent level by 2050.

The second goal of the programme is to increase the share of green energy generated from waste. Starting with 5 percent in 2020, the republic plans to increase the share of wastes used for energy production to 30 percent by 2050. But in order to fulfil the tasks, the market of utilisation must be attractive.

“The state programme on solid waste management provides for long-term contracts and preferential tariffs. This will attract private investors. In addition, such functions as garbage removal and landfill management must be carried out by a single operator to avoid conflict of interests,” said Kapparov.

At the initial stage of the programme, 52 billion tenge (US$283.4 million) will be allocated for these purposes. The amount of private investment in this period will be nearly 75 billion tenge (US$408.7 million), or 60 percent of the total cost. The ministry is currently finalising the calculations for investment projects on waste management in nine cities of the republic. These works have already started in Aktau and Karaganda.

The minister also told in detail about the implementation of the government programme on water management. To reduce water consumption in the country in 2016 by 14 percent, it is necessary to reconstruct and repair transmission and distribution channels, irrigation and drainage systems, reservoirs, dams and hydroelectric facilities. The lakes in protected natural areas will be cleaned and rehabilitated, in addition to the launch of the second phase of the project Regulation of Syr Darya River and Northern Aral Sea. As a result, more than 2,700 kilometres of main and distribution channels will be modernised and 29 new reservoirs will be created. All these measures will be funded by the state and local budgets and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

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