Ukraine inherited a highly inefficient and polluting solid waste management system upon independence in 1991. It has been struggling with its garbage ever since. A recent World Bank study reports that Ukraine generates over 17 million tons of waste per year. Its waste recovery rate is alarmingly low — about 5 percent. The rest ends up landfills or illegal dumps near cities, posing health and environmental risks. Regardless of future government actions and potential changes in consumer behavior, Ukraine needs to significantly expand its landfill capacity.
The Ukrainian government has taken some important steps to foster a legislative environment that will improve the processing and recycling of waste. Encouragingly, cities have recognized that tapping landfill gas for power generation is an effective part of comprehensive solid waste management system. The USAID funded Public Private Partnership Development Program (P3DP) is in the forefront of this movement, helping two cities — Vinnytsia and Ivano Frankivsk — introduce biogas technology as part of their comprehensive solid waste management systems through public-private partnerships (PPPs).
Value in Vinnytsia
Vinnystia, a city of 370,000 in south-western Ukraine, plans to decommission its existing landfill and generate electricity from its landfill gas, which mostly consists of methane — a greenhouse gas with over 21 times the impact of CO2. The project will generate and sell electricity using biogas that is currently flared. The proceeds will be used to recultivate and close down the landfill once its capacity expires.
The municipality has completed feasibility studies and expects to be ready for tender in 2014. An independent study showed that the project could attract up to $3 million in private sector investment, generate $5 million in tax revenues, and reduce gas emissions of nearly 460,000 tons of CO2.
The idea is catching on. After visiting the site in Vinnytsia, the Governor of Ivano-Frankivsk, championed the initiating of a similar PPP in his own region. A feasibility study is underway and is expected to be completed in late 2014.
The Demonstration Effect
With approximately 100 landfills in Ukraine suitable for extraction and utilization of landfill gas, the demonstration effect has the potential to be replicated across the country. If this becomes an ingrained aspect of Ukraine’s solid waste management system, Ukraine’s landfill gas utilization will ultimately contribute to more efficient and environmentally friendly use of the country’s resources.
Other benefits include:
- Lower costs. The high cost of gas in Ukraine is a drain on local budgets. Business is uncompetitive and municipalities do not have the necessary funds to address infrastructure needs.
- Greater energy independence. Ukraine imports most of its natural gas from Russia, making it vulnerable to geopolitical pressure. Harnessing landfill gas will reduce the need for imports.
- Opportunities for small business. Local Ukrainian businesses will have greater opportunities to participate in the solid waste and energy sectors.
- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Ukraine is a leading contributor to carbon emissions on a per capita basis. A study by Bio, an engineering firm, estimates Ukraine could save the equivalent of 6 million tons of CO2 annually by using landfill gas.
With improving solid waste management as a top priority for the Ukrainian government, this is a good time to demonstrate how PPPs can improve the collection, processing and disposal of solid waste throughout the country. PPPs bring private sector investment for infrastructure and public services, as well as new technologies and managerial skills that play a major role in increasing energy efficiency and mitigating climate change. Landfill gas PPPs could lead the way, forming an integral component of a sustainable solid waste management program.