How to put segregated waste collection on a business track

In September, Google searches for climate change surpassed American Internet users' interest in Game of Thrones for the first time in history. At the same time, Swedish schoolgirl-activist Greta Thunberg became the main heroine of small talk and controversy on social networks - her accusatory speech from the UN rostrum made a mass audience think about the impact of consumption habits on the environment. How did it happen that we are all seriously concerned about the green agenda in 2021?

The anthropogenic impact on the environment and the danger of the accumulation of greenhouse gases became the subject of public discussion back in the 1970s, but in the next decade the topic was swept by a wave of consumerism that swept the developed countries. But soon the effects of rampant consumption began knocking on literally every door. The first, in addition to scientists and their caring followers, the generation of millennials was seriously concerned about the climate crisis. The last decade has been the time when millennials have become the primary target group for merchandise manufacturers. Add to this the notable advancement in women empowerment - the voices of women who make purchasing decisions far more often than men have sounded much louder. Today, according to a Nielsen study, 81% of people around the world believe that businesses need to care about the environment. The topic has ceased to be a lesson from the school curriculum and turned into an important factor influencing decision-making.

Sustainability is a new trend

Business has caught the change in public sentiment. The demand for sustainability has quickly become a marketing trend. In the past five years, as millennials have become a key consumer group, store shelves have filled with green labels, and products with the prefix "eco" and "bio" have moved from specialty stores to supermarket shelves. Businesses quickly felt that products marketed as green were selling better. This has been proven by a recent study by New York University. The analysis of consumer behavior in 2021-2021 showed that specifically “green” goods are not only better bought - their presence favorably affects the growth of the entire product category.

It's no surprise that global brands are willing to exploit the trend to maintain and improve sales. One of the leaders in the fast fashion segment H&M launched the Conscious line in 2021, made from organic cotton and recycled materials, and in 2021, a textile recycling program. IKEA first began accepting batteries and LED bulbs in its stores, and last year launched a program in Russia to accept unwanted textiles (and in 2021 significantly expanded the list of accepted goods). General Motors even changed the logo color to green in 2021 to make it seem more environmentally friendly. Adidas draws attention to ocean pollution by releasing running shoes from recycled ocean debris. And outdoor clothing brand Patagonia surprised everyone in 2021 with a Black Friday ad in the New York Times with the slogan “Don’t buy this jacket”. The list of such examples is endless, but they all want to use the green trend. Brands do not yet have statistics on profitability - most often companies launch such initiatives in addition to traditional business strategies.

In 2021, the “green” trend developed especially rapidly - both around the world and in Russia. For example, the largest domestic online retailer Wildberries has given up plastic bags. Its offline competitors did the same during the same period.

Leonid Dovladbegyan, director of strategy and e-commerce of the Perekrestok chain, told Forbes Life that at the end of August, online customers of the supermarket had the opportunity to give the courier plastic bags in which the order was delivered for further processing. “If in 2021-2021 our customers wanted to receive orders packed in a larger number of packages, then in 2021 the trend was reversed. We made a decision, firstly, to abandon some of the packaging packages, and secondly, to introduce a service for receiving packages, ”the manager lists.

According to Tatiana Stepanova, Director of the Operational and Brand Marketing Department of the Pyaterochka chain, the company is "actively piloting various environmental initiatives." “In particular, shopping baskets made from recycled plastic are being used for the first time in a recently opened store in Moscow, and as an alternative to disposable bags, we offer customers reusable bags and paper bags,” says a Forbes interlocutor.

Manufacturers of clothing and footwear are not lagging behind. So, Timberland released the first model from recycled plastic this year. And in August, 32 brands from the fashion industry at once, including luxury Chanel, Ralph Lauren and Prada, and massive H&M and Zara, signed a "Fashion Pact" aimed at reducing the industry's greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable development principles.

In July, the largest retail representatives signed the Sustainable Development Memorandum in Russia. However, according to Mikhail Babenko, head of the Green Economy at WWF Russia, the country is “at the very beginning of the journey”. “First of all, because in the Russian retail work in the field of sustainable development is not built as a system, measures to reduce the ecological footprint and responsible consumption are fragmented. But a demand from the market has appeared, ”the expert says.

Taking care of the environment or a new marketing ploy?

Beautiful campaigns in green colors and loud statements about eco-campaigns often hide little real action - this phenomenon is called "greenwashing" by environmentalists. The globalized system for the production and sale of goods is causing irreparable damage to nature around the world. Despite assurances from brands that they are ready for change, they continue to generate tons of carbon from transporting goods, a huge waste of fresh water for growing cotton, contaminating soil and rivers with hazardous chemicals, and using precarious manufacturing sites in developing countries where female workers are not pay a decent salary, not to mention the social package.

The topic of greenwashing is actively discussed in the cosmetic market. There are many examples where, in the absence of tight regulation of label information, manufacturers have pretended to be safe and sustainable. But even truly natural and organic cosmetics can be questionable if produced in an unethical manner or in non-recyclable packaging. In such cases, it is just another trend chase and a response to consumer demand, not a truly environmentally friendly product.

The environmental problem in our country is especially acute, but there are desperate people who are ready to risk capital and change the situation. Knife talked to eco-startups, went through a series of circles of hell with a Moscow company dealing with separate waste collection, and compared our experience with foreign ones in order to understand what it is like to create an ecological business in Russia and whether it is possible to make money on it.

The cry of seagulls is associated with the sea. The cry of seagulls over a three-meter mountain of waste is associated with all the seas of the world, which may soon be gone. It is far from Moscow to the ocean - as well as from the waste sorting plant of the Ecoline company in Vladykin to water bodies, but gulls still find their way here. They scream and circle in a cloud of dust without stopping. Their screams are not drowned out even by the noise of an excavator filling the landfill with new waste. Nothing can interrupt the suffocating odor at the factory, which instantly penetrates under the clothes, gives it to the head and remains in the memory.

We don't understand the types of garbage

Every year Russians throw out 70 million tons of garbage, which is comparable to the weight of a million A320 airbuses. 94% of waste is sent to landfills, of which there are now more than 14 thousand in the country, and their area is increasing by 0.4 million hectares every year.

This is not only unaesthetic and smells bad, but also harmful: when garbage is buried, a poisonous filtrate is formed, which enters the groundwater.

In Russia, only 4% of waste is recycled (for comparison: in Europe - up to 65%), and yet this is the only environmentally friendly way to eliminate them. To recycle garbage, you first need to separate it. This is done in Russia by private operators for the management of municipal solid waste (MSW).

In Moscow, where the most garbage is produced, in 2021 an experiment was launched to introduce a separate waste collection system (SDS), in which today nine districts are participating. But the implementation of this program raised a lot of questions from Greenpeace Russia.

Firstly, it is not known how much of the 140 billion rubles allocated from the city budget, companies direct directly to separate waste collection and collection of recyclable materials. Secondly, in Moscow there is no single approach to organizing this process, and therefore no uniform requirements. Thirdly, the public inspection of Greenpeace Russia in 2021 revealed that not all of the 1124 NOR points planned for deployment were working properly.

Five operators received the state contract, and in 2021 Ecoline became one of them.

The number of waste sorting plants is also growing: the recently opened enterprise in Vladykin has become the third. Conveyors are noisy, waste is brought in, people are working. The business seems to be booming. But is it so easy to make money on a green idea in Russia?

How to sell garbage

Instead of answering this question, Ecoline representatives invited the editorial staff to independently observe each stage of work.

It all starts at district meetings. To establish a grid for recyclable waste, it is necessary to distribute information materials of the company, and residents must agree and collect the required number of signatures in favor. For this, the representative of "Ecoline" Elena Vishnyakova holds meetings with residents, at which she tells in detail what the company is doing and why. Before such a conversation at the information commission of the Council of Deputies in the Airport area, Elena warns that “newcomers” are always wary and generally fear that she has come to block the garbage chute for them. And it turns out to be right.

“Having bought a new apartment in a prestigious monolithic brick building, our family began to feel unwell,” says Anna Ivanovna Kostomarova from the Moscow Region. - Gradually, there was a strong understanding that we breathe dangerous air. For example, a husband's pressure stabilizes only at work or in the country. How to determine what poisons us? "

We addressed this question to Andrey Shmelev, an expert on the safety of building materials. His answer was shocking. It turns out that many materials emit real poisons, which, moreover, have a carcinogenic effect. In general, according to the expert, only an examination can answer the question of whether the habitat is safe. However, this requires specialized environmental laboratories, the creation and operation of which can be a great idea for a business.

In order for the newly created laboratory to be in demand, it must accurately determine the nature of any negative environmental impacts on humans. We are talking about the following factors that need to be identified in the apartment, in the yard, at work for health safety:

  • chemical composition of air;
  • radiation level;
  • dangerous thresholds of electromagnetic radiation;
  • harmful noise boundaries;
  • bacteriological composition of the air.

According to many experts, drawing up an environmental passport for an apartment can bring the greatest income. A number of existing laboratories of this profile provide similar services at prices ranging from 10 to 20 thousand rubles for an object with an area of ​​40 to 150 sq. m. “A specialist leaves and takes measurements of radiation, noise and electromagnetic radiation on the spot, as well as takes air and water samples from the taps,” says Andrey Shmelev. - Depending on the depth of the study, the date of receipt of the safety data sheet is assigned, for example the next day. We record numerous cases of refusal to purchase apartments after environmental impact assessments. "

In other words, when opening an environmental review, start-ups must determine the depth of research. For example, the chemical composition of air can be determined by eleven parameters, or by twenty-two. Based on this, a business plan is built.

Towards customers

As a consequence, according to experts, the easiest way to start your business in this industry is to use indicator tubes for gas analysis. For example, a kit for determining the air quality "NHS-Air" can be purchased for 42 thousand rubles. At the same time, it can be used to easily and simply identify styrene, which is emitted by low-quality plastic windows, and, of course, the aforementioned formaldehydes. This will require indicator tubes TI- [styrene-0.2] and TI- [HCHO-0.1], respectively.

To assess the radiation level, you can purchase the MKS-05 Terra dosimeter-radiometer for 16400 rubles. You will also need a Sh-63 or Sh-70 sound level meter, an S34 spectrometer, and a climatic chamber. “Equipping a laboratory with high-quality instruments is, of course, expensive: about 50 thousand dollars,” says Irina Mikhailovna, an analyzer chemist. - But you can start with small amounts, for example, 100 thousand rubles. This will be enough to give an acceptable environmental assessment, while the level of profitability can reach 50%. "

Those who have already gone from idea to implementation advise: “Start with the accreditation of a new laboratory in the SAAL organization, which is a subsidiary of the Federal Agency for Technical Regulation and Metrology,” advises Georgy Tsvetkov, developer of regulatory documents ... - Buy PNDF later, when the money is available. And one more thing: buy PNDF only from the developer, they are expensive, but updating is free. "

There are nuances here: in particular, an examination can be carried out without accreditation in the SAAL. This is how many begin, understanding the fragility of their business. "The results obtained in non-accredited laboratories are not recognized by the court," writes Georgy Tsvetkov.

By the way, you can specialize in one thing, like water quality. Those who decided to make the environmental laboratory mobile will probably have to resolve issues in the traffic police with the registration of the vehicle, since the traffic cops will consider the installation of devices to be a change in the design.

Several years ago, Sergei Baltaev decided to engage in social entrepreneurship in the field of ecology. Together with a partner, he registered an NGO that is engaged in the processing of plastic, paper and glass in the small town of Mendeleevsk. To date, 43 waste collection containers have been installed here, as well as in neighboring villages and villages.

Sergey Baltaev talks about the first business experiments, federal grants and entrepreneurship with a social mission in an interview with Kontur. urnal.

First attempts to start a business

I come from Tatarstan, from the city of Nizhnekamsk, but I grew up and studied in another republican city - Mendeleevsk. Our family moved there in the early 1990s for work reasons. In 2021, I entered the Kazan Electrotechnical College of Communications, majoring in Operation of Communication Facilities. Then this direction was fashionable and in demand, so I chose it. The army prevented me from completing my studies. From 2021 to 2021 I served, and upon my return I decided to get a diploma. True, I had to change my specialty: I got a job, went to the correspondence department and graduated from a technical school with a specialization in Radio Communication, Radio Broadcasting and Television.

After the army, I was drawn to entrepreneurship, I registered an individual entrepreneur, because different business ideas suddenly began to come to my mind. At first he was engaged in information and advertising boards in Mendeleevsk. I spied on this idea in Kazan and decided to implement it in my small town. The parents helped with the initial investment - they took out a bank loan in the amount of 200,000 rubles. With this money, I bought tools and components for making shields. Gradually he began to install them around the city, but did not take into account that such activity required a special permit. As a result, problems began to arise with the shields, and then I decided to transfer the business to Elabuga, which is almost three times the size of Mendeleevsk. In a new location, he started a business from scratch, transferred it to official status.

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At the same time, he launched a tiny photo studio, where he printed photos, made photocopies and provided other services. Gradually, the salon became my main specialization, and the shields began to fade into the background - many of them broke, but we did not even carry out repairs. Two years later, in 2021, this business came to naught. A year later, the photo studio also closed.

Development Sources and Business Benefits

The idea of ​​the current project - an autonomous non-profit organization "Environmental efficiency of secondary raw materials" - was born in 2021. Then I worked for the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Tatarstan for five years. I got a job there on the instructions of my parents: my dad always told me that I needed to find a good, useful job for people. Plus, work in the Ministry of Emergencies implied certain privileges. In addition, a convenient schedule made it possible to combine this work with business experiments.

The business of separate waste collection (sorting and pressing of recyclable materials) initially seemed to us with a partner a rather profitable enterprise, since there will always be a demand for such services.

No economic crisis, no other cataclysms can stop the production of garbage. On average, a family of four produces 2,000 kg of garbage per year.

If you have finances, but you still have not decided which business to invest in, Green Portal offers 32 ideas for eco-business. sales and recycling companies, bicycles and electric cars, refilling printer cartridges and even recovering gold from old computer equipment. Everything for your well-being!


1. Sale of LED bulbs

The popularity of LED lamps is growing, since they are not much more expensive than conventional energy-saving incandescent lamps, and the savings from their operation are many times greater.

2. Repair and sale of used phones, computers and laptops

It's no secret that used equipment is cheaper than new equipment. Manufacturing brand new smartphones requires a lot more energy compared to the energy used to fix them.

3. Sale and repair of bicycles

A bicycle is an environmentally friendly means of transportation. By owning a bicycle sales and repair business, you can not only make money, but also become a part of the eco-revolution.

4. Sales of recycled glass products

Glass is one of the products that is recommended not to be thrown away but recycled. It is cost effective.

5. Recycled paper bag making

In most European countries, retailers are encouraged to use recycled paper bags because they are environmentally friendly and easily degradable. The trend is slowly coming to Belarus. And in Kenya, they recently banned the use of plastic bags altogether on fear of 4 years in prison.

6. Production and sale of biofuel

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