Site icon News-EN

UNDP supports innovative solutions to ‘waste of war’ in Ukraine – Global issues


According to authorities, the war has affected more than a quarter of Ukraine’s territory and caused widespread destruction of buildings, creating thousands of tons of rubble, creating a huge problem that will take decades to solve.

In most communities, this waste is not properly sorted, resulting in the formation of “spontaneous dumps.”

Equipment and training

UNDP has dismantled the rubble of destroyed buildings and introduced a waste management system. The agency, with support from the European Union (EU), recently helped set up a station for processing waste that has accumulated in Bucha, located in the Kiev region.

Russian troops occupied the city for almost a month in the early stages of the war, committing atrocities that came to light after its liberation, including the massacre of dozens of civilians.

UNDP and the EU provided equipment such as mobile crushers and excavators for the waste management site, in addition to training staff. The Bucha city government in turn allocated a four-hectare plot of land for the facility. This is the first such UN project in Ukraine and there are plans for other regions of the country.

Thousands of homes damaged

“Ukraine has never seen such a scale of destruction before, so there was no need to be able to deal with such waste, there was no system in place,” said Roman Shakhmatenko, UNDP Team Leader for the Environment Portfolio.

“This dump was formed immediately after the liberation of the Kiev region. The waste from the destruction was not sorted here at first – then it was necessary to evacuate the settlements as quickly as possible so that the people began to return. Now we have to do something about it. In general, today the problem in the Kiev region is very big: thousands of houses have been damaged.”

Bucha Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk agreed. He said any conversation about restoration and reconstruction must start with understanding the need to dismantle and remove everything that has been destroyed.

He noted that more than 4,000 buildings, including high-rise apartments, had been damaged in Bucha alone.

“In the first phase, more than 500 private houses destroyed as a result of the hostilities were dismantled and removed,” he said.

Mayor Fedoruk recalled that the large dump there contained equipment and more than 200 cars, which remained for a long time without a decision being made on their proper disposal.

“Then people started returning and taking all their household waste there, and this became a huge problem: a landfill spontaneously formed. UNDP’s first private sector clean-up program allowed us to clean up the area. At the moment, the volume we have to process is still very high,” he says.

“We collected 75,000 cubic meters of destruction waste. We have to sort, process and recycle it all. And the residues that cannot be recycled must be disposed of in accordance with European standards. This is a complex process, but we plan to have all landfills fully organized by the end of this year.”

Innovation in Bucha

Mr Shakhmatenko explained that the heart of the operation is a mobile crusher that processes waste so that it can be reused later, for example in new construction.

“This machine can process 80 cubic meters of waste per hour. For example, one large truck is 15 cubic meters in size. That is, the crusher processes five such vehicles per hour. This will be sufficient for the needs of the region.”

UN News/Anna Radomska

From left to right: Mayor of Bucha Anatoly Fedoruk, head of Buchaservice utility Serhii Mostipaka, UNDP team leader for energy and environment portfolio Roman Shakhmatenko, and UNDP communications specialist Anastasia Shapran.

The waste processing station is divided into different areas. The first phase involves clearing the rubble and sorting the wood, plastic and glass, said Serhii Mostipaka, head of the utility company ‘Buchaservice’.

“What is already transported to the second location is then processed by a crusher – which can crush concrete and brick in different sizes, from the largest to the smallest,” he said.

“This is virtually waste-free production: waste is taken to a landfill, sorted, processed and reused. Only waste containing asbestos cannot be recycled and disposed of.”

Asbestos problem

UNDP said a special laboratory will be installed on site to detect asbestos – both in the waste and in the air where the work takes place – in accordance with international standards. Exposure can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis or fibrosis of the lungs. according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Mr Shakhmatenko described asbestos as “a particularly big problem” because it can be found in slate roofs and various insulation materials.

“All over the world this problem was solved in the 1970s, and it was very expensive. We have only just started this. New production of asbestos is banned, but what to do with the waste is a very difficult question,” he said.

“We need special places for its burial and separate technologies to deal with it. We have already developed appropriate protocols for dealing with asbestos. We package it and take it to specially designated places for temporary storage, where it will remain until special places become available for its disposal.”

UN News/Anna Radomska

Sign “Beware of landmines” in Ukraine

Mayor Fedoruk said that before work can begin in areas under occupation, demining must take place, and that this is a difficult and lengthy process.

“I am not exaggerating when I say that where the Russian army was, all areas need professional inspection by sappers. There are still many ‘surprises’ left,” he said.

“A month ago, we started manually sorting the waste that was exported here. Unfortunately, we found the remains of what the Russian army left behind: several explosive objects. Mindfulness is very important.”

“Terrible ‘discoveries’” emerge

“There are more terrible ‘discoveries’,” UNDP’s Mr Shakhmatenko added.

“While clearing the rubble, we recently found the corpse of a man with his eyes and hands blindfolded. This happened when we were dismantling one of the houses in Bucha. What remains of the body is practically a mummy.”

Today, 76 people from the city – men, women and children – are still considered missing, Mayor Fedoruk said.

“We know that some of them are in Russian captivity, but the whereabouts of the rest are unknown. This example makes us understand that while clearing the rubble we will be able to find some of the missing persons.”

UN News/Anna Radomska

Dismantling war-damaged buildings in Ukraine.

Support the UN system

The mayor praised the support of the UN country team in Ukraine, describing it as “a real partnership”.

Mr Mostipaka of the utility company Buchaservice echoed the praise, saying that almost all equipment had been almost destroyed as a result of the war.

“This project with UNDP actually gave our utility a new lease of life,” he said.

Today “Buchaservice” is involved in the maintenance of apartment buildings, road surfaces, sidewalks, lighting and even cemeteries, as well as waste removal in 12 settlements in the region.

“We have operators who can work on new equipment,” he added, noting that several women joined their ranks as some men left to serve in the war.

UN News/Anna Radomska

Dismantling war-damaged buildings in Ukraine.

Post-war plans

The UNDP project also focuses on longer-term issues such as recycling, as waste always accumulates.

“Even in peacetime, it is always necessary to recycle brick, concrete and foam concrete – there is always construction waste because the city is constantly being built,” Mayor Fedoruk said.

“It is important to set up a service so that everyone knows there is a location where you can always bring waste, and where it will always be accepted, selected, sorted, processed and disposed of properly.”

He said it was no coincidence that UNDP chose Buchaservice “because we were trying to deal with waste properly even before the war” and the recycling program is like “a second life” for the company.

“They not only help us deal with all the rubble and waste that arises, but also help us develop the utility according to European standards.”

UN News/Anna Radomska

Dismantling war-damaged buildings in Ukraine.

Local leaders critical

UNDP plans to set up similar projects in other regions of Ukraine, such as Chernihiv and Kharkiv.

The amount of rubble in the country is so great that no one knows exactly how much there is, Mr Shakhmatenko said.

“We understand that this is a problem for years to come. And if we can solve it the way it is organized now in Bucha, it will be very good,” he added.

“However, we must remember that 60 percent of the work in this case was done by the local authorities and the utility company, and that UNDP helped. A lot depends on local leaders.”

Exit mobile version