Russia: Moscow starts recycling again as dumps overflow

A tractor deals with burning garbage at Moscow landfill site Image copyright AFP
Image caption Moscow's rubbish dumps are either full or close to capacity

Moscow is rediscovering the old Soviet culture of recycling as landfill sites in the Russian capital overflow and toxic leaks cause a public outcry, it seems.

Every year, Moscow produces about 9 million tonnes of rubbish - a fifth of all the waste produced in Russia - which goes to 38 landfill sites on the edges of the city. In Dyakovo, a town next to the Dmitrovsky dump, the soil is so contaminated that vegetables will not grow there, the Moscow Times reports.

With 24 dumps scheduled to shut this year, the situation is so urgent that local authorities are pledging to recycle or incinerate as much as 65% of the city's waste - up from just 10% at present. By comparison, households in England recycled around 43% of their waste in 2013.

In the Soviet era, citizens sorted their own rubbish, earning a small amount of money for scrap metal, paper and glass handed in at local collection points. But mountains of rubbish have piled up ever since the system collapsed.

Recycling companies are starting to pop up in the region, sensing opportunity. But one firm says until local laws change, burying rubbish in a landfill is the cheapest option.

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