Russia Could ‘Drown’ in Its Own Plastic Waste

Environmental campaigners in Russia are hoping that the World Cup will inspire the country to start recycling more of its waste. Each visitor to the tournament is generating around 3 kilograms of plastic waste, all of which is collected at stadiums and fanzones for recycling.

Russia, however, has a huge problem with what it does with its own, regular waste.

Recycling rates here are close to zero, according to environmentalist Tatiana Nagorskaya, from the St Petersburg-based Association for Ecology and Environmental Protection.

“It’s extremely important that we recycle more here, otherwise we are going to drown in the waste that we are creating,” she told me outside the fanzone in Russia’s second city.

“In order to educate people the system has to be transparent. People need to trust you, they need to see that what they put in to be recycled really does get recycled.

“Without that trust, they won’t embrace it.”

Just a few miles from England’s training base at Repino sits Sestroretsk and its beautiful beach.

Every morning a team of local council workers clears plastic debris that the tide has washed ashore.

It’s a thankless task, but they start early and rapidly fill bag after bag with single use plastic items like drinks bottles and cups.

The only respite they get comes courtesy of the harsh Russian winter when the sea freezes over for weeks on end.

“We just want to have the place looking nice for people when they visit,” one worker told me. “We are trying our best.”

This World Cup will be over in a fortnight and the visitors will move on, as will the plastic waste they’ve generated during the tournament.

But what Russia does with its own waste is a far bigger problem.