Being Up for Waste

At METRO, sustainability has long been an important topic - across all countries. Some countries are green pioneers when it comes to recycling. Others are still in the very early stages. That's why METRO Ukraine is tackling this issue and offering recycling stations for everyone.

the-tradition-of-plastic-the-road-to-successful-changeWe have known that climate protection concerns us all ever since the Fridays for Future demonstrations, in which mainly young people take to the streets worldwide and strike for better climate policy. They managed to put the issue of sustainability on the agenda of many people and companies. The awareness starts with the thought 'Where can I save packaging waste?' and ends with 'How do I separate my waste properly?' Waste separation and recycling in particular can make a difference: Every year, the production and incineration of plastic waste alone emits around 400 million tons of CO2 worldwide.

According to a 2015 study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Germany is the world's top recycler with a recycling rate of up to 65%, followed by South Korea, Slovenia, Austria and Belgium. Many other countries, on the other hand, have not yet reached this level. Ukraine, for example, produces almost 450 million tons of waste every year, of which only about 5% is recycled. The rest ends up in landfills covering 167 thousand hectares, which is more than the territory of the country's Nature Reserve Fund. 

Fight against waste in Ukraine

The backward waste management in Ukraine can be attributed to several factors. On the one hand, outdated legislation developed more than 20 years ago; on the other hand, the lack of a closed-loop waste management model, as well as the unregulated collection of packaging waste by producers and the lack of extended producer responsibility. In order to develop waste collection and the recycling industry according to EU standards, the legal regulations in this area are not yet sufficient. Nevertheless, Ukrainian society demands responsibility. More and more Ukrainians are worried about the environment and their future and are making sure that their waste is sorted correctly.

Even responsible companies can no longer escape this - positive - trend. In order not to wait for the government's initiative alone, environmental projects are being created - such as the METRO recycling stations. These are not only open to commercial customers, but also to all environmentally conscious citizens of the respective cities. They can dispose of their waste such as glass bottles, paper waste, aluminium cans, Tetra Pak packaging and plastic, but also slag.

METRO customer Ivanka Сhervinska is delighted about this opportunity to hand in her waste directly at the wholesale store. More than 2 years ago, she decided to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle and to separate her waste properly, initially at the recycling centre 'Ukraine without waste'. 'At the beginning it felt a bit unfamiliar because I was in the habit of throwing everything into one container,' she says. 'Since METRO opened the recycling centre in the Poznyaky store, I have been going there regularly because I live nearby and using the waste collection point saves me a lot of time.' At the end of September 2020 METRO Ukraine opened the new recycling station in Odessa, where additionally a recycling expert helps the users to separate properly and explains to them what can and cannot be recycled. And if someone brings in waste that cannot be recycled - no problem: there is also a special container for non-recyclable materials that are either sent to a specialist company for incineration or to the landfill. The waste is then properly disposed of by METRO and its partner company Tarservice LLC.

Cooperation with Tarservice LLC

Tarservice LLC is a part of the 'STS-group' enterprise, which specialises in the collection of secondary raw materials - raw materials obtained by processing discarded materials - in the southeast of Ukraine. The company uses its own network of recycling stations. The company's main partners in this field are companies such as METRO, but also Ukrainian brewery companies such as Carlsberg Ukraine. Tarservice LLC takes care of the collection of recyclable materials from companies and shopping centres and transports the collected recyclable materials to production plants where they are sorted, pressed and recycled under strict conditions.
The cooperation of METRO Ukraine and Tarservice LLC includes not only the collection of secondary raw materials at METRO waste collection points, but also the training of METRO employees in the correct collection and separation of waste as well as the disposal of waste from the METRO stores themselves. Serhiy Korablev, Director of Tarservice LLC, explains the urgency and added value of the recycling stations: 'They enable us to use recyclable materials and teach the users of the stations the correct waste separation. According to the State Statistics Service, each Ukrainian citizen produces about 300 tons of waste. At the same time, 7% of the area of the country is covered by landfills: this is more than 43 thousand square kilometres, in other words, about the size of Denmark - this has to be contained.'

Waste separation that pays off twice

As part of the corporate strategy for responsible waste management, METRO Ukraine has introduced waste collection points in a total of 10 Ukrainian METRO stores since 2018. Another one was added in Odessa at the end of September 2020. What is special about this recycling centre is that every kilogram of secondary raw material has an equivalent value. So, every citizen of Odessa   can not only care for the environment, but also receive a financial reward from Tarservice LLC for recycling their waste. For example, in exchange for 100 grams of plastic, users receive 1 Hrywnja (about €0.03). This may not sound like much since you can only buy two boxes of matches for this amount. But if you consider the amount of waste collected, it can still be seen as a little incentive for the individual user. This incentive scheme is so far unique. 
But no matter whether with or without financial 'rewards' for waste separation - the topic of environmental protection is becoming increasingly popular in Ukraine. 'Almost every quarter, the demand for facilities to dispose of waste in an environmentally friendly way is increasing. So, there is no doubt that METRO recycling stations are well received. Every month, about 120 cubic metres of secondary raw materials with a weight of about 12 tons are already collected,' reports Olena Vdovychenko, Sales Director at METRO Ukraine. The road to becoming a role model country in recycling is still a long one. But a step towards a more environmentally friendly Ukraine has already been taken.

Sustainability at METRO

We target our actions on 8 focus areas that affect us and our customers the most and where we create the greatest leverage. Read more about our sustainability strategy and the 8 strategic focus areas in our Corporate Responsibility Report 2019/20.

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