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Children sick as Russia’s landfill crisis turns toxic – Sky News

By Diana Magnay, Moscow Correspondent

Most landfills in Moscow are filled well beyond capacity, leaving many families worried about a mass poisoning of their children.

No one likes a landfill in their backyard, especially not when it makes their children sick. That’s what happened in the town of Volokolamsk, three days after Russia’s general election.

As the world’s diplomats worried about a poisoning in Salisbury, the residents of Volokolamsk worried about a mass poisoning of their sons and daughters. More than 60 children were treated at a local clinic for headaches, nausea and breathing difficulties.

Locals blamed a particularly toxic emission from the nearby Yadrovo dump, one of 15 across the Moscow region filled well beyond capacity with waste from the capital.

At the end of March, district officials declared a state of emergency because of excessive levels of hydrogen sulphide in the air.

Two months later and the people of Volokolamsk are still protesting – back in their central square as Alexei Navalny rallied his supporters for a day of anti-Putin protests across Russia.

Never mind wider freedoms, all they want is to be able to wake up in the morning without worrying which way the wind blows or whether their child should take a gas mask to school.

It’s not just Volokolamsk. There are ongoing protests in nine other towns across the Moscow region, burdened with the detritus their consumerist cousins in the capital throw away.

In Volokolamsk, residents have managed to reduce the number of garbage deliveries to 80 a day, with volunteers taking it in turns to monitor them.

In Kolomna on the other side of Moscow, locals work in shifts through the night to check they don’t get more than their fair share. Sometimes it ends in clashes with lorry drivers or police.

Protests there have been banned so the best Kolomna residents can do now is single-man pickets.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Moscow produces eight million tons of waste a year, one fifth of all the garbage in Russia – with 90% of that dumped in landfills.

The ministry of ecology admits that of the 15 landfills across the Moscow region, 13 do not meet the required standards.

Last year, Vladimir Putin ordered the Kuchino landfill to close after residents there begged him to during his annual direct phone in. But that’s just aggravated the problem – Moscow’s garbage has to go somewhere.

It is food waste which causes the buildup of gases. Look at the Yadrovo dump and you can see the heat it generates, shimmering above the litter.

Sergei Orlov, who volunteers at the Yadrovo gates, says you can tell when there’s a particularly strong emission because there’ll be a puff of black smoke rising from the dump. Three to five minutes later, the smell hits you.

According to Alexei Kiselev, head of the Greenpeace Russia toxic program, Moscow has the biogas facilities to process food waste as well as 432 recycling plants which could handle the rest.

He thinks Moscow could easily sort its trash and recycle if there was the political will to do so. But there isn’t.

Link here for the full article on the Sky News website

Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign encourages people to reduce their single-use plastics. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.skyoceanrescue.com

Theresa May ‘declares war on plastic’ in Government’s Environmental Plan – Sky News

A £61.4m war chest to fight the rising tide of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans has been announced by the Government.

Theresa May has set out plans to get rid of avoidable plastic waste within 25 years – as she also confirmed the 5p bag charge will be extended to all shops.

The Prime Minister said she wanted to “make ours the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it”.

Unveiling her Environmental Plan in a speech in west London, she called plastic “one of the great environmental scourges of our time”.

Single-use plastic wasted every year in the UK would fill the Royal Albert Hall 1,000 times, the PM said.

Supermarkets will also be encouraged to have plastic-free aisles where items such as fruit and veg are loose rather than wrapped up in film.

Charges and taxes on single-use items, for example takeaway containers, will also be considered.

And the 5p plastic bag charge will now also be brought in for smaller shops, which were previously exempt.

But critics of the plan have called it a “missed opportunity” and say it should be underpinned by new laws in order to hold the Government and businesses to account.

Speaking at London’s Wetland Centre, Mrs May insisted that Brexit would not lead to lower environmental standards.

She said: “We will incorporate all existing EU environmental regulations into domestic legalisation when we leave.

“We will set out our plans for a new, world-leading independent statutory body to hold government to account and give the environment a voice.”

Other pledges include aid to help developing nations reduce plastic use and a new Northern Forest from Cheshire to Lancashire and Yorkshire.

There was no confirmation in the PM’s speech of a suggested 25p charge on the millions of disposable coffee cups used each year – of which only a tiny percentage get recycled.

Link here for the full article on the Sky News website

Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign encourages people to reduce their single-use plastics. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.skyoceanrescue.com

Battle against plastic in world’s oceans gets £61.4m war chest – Sky News

by Ian Francis, Sky news Reporter

A £61.4m war chest to fight the rising tide of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans has been announced by the Government.

The fund was announced by Theresa May ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London next week.

The Prime Minister is due to ask all the 52 leaders at the meeting to sign up to the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance set up to help developing Commonwealth countries research and improve waste management.

So far four Commonwealth countries, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu and Ghana, have joined the UK in the alliance.

The Government said £25m of the fund is available to help researchers investigate the issue of marine plastic from a scientific, economic and social perspective.

Another £20m has been earmarked to curb plastic and other environmental pollution generated by manufacturing in developing countries and prevent it seeping into oceans.

That leaves £16.4m which will be spent on improving waste management at a national and city level to stop plastics entering the water. 

The Government pledged to match public donations to tackle plastic waste through the UK Aid Match up to a total of £5m.

The PM said: “This week we will look closely at how we can tackle the many threats to the health of the world’s oceans, including the scourge of marine plastic pollution.

“As one of the most significant environmental challenges facing the world today it is vital that we tackle this issue, so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it.

“The UK public has shown passion and energy in the fight against plastic waste, and I believe the Commonwealth is uniquely placed to further this transformative action.

“It is a unique organisation with the strength and the commitment to make a difference.”

She added: “If we stand together, we have the opportunity to send not only a powerful message to the world, but also to effect real change.”

Britain, which is co-chairing the event with Vanuatu, will ask Commonwealth nations to follow the UK’s lead in banning microbeads and slashing the number of single use plastic bags.

WWF chief executive Tanya Steele said: “This alliance, and the leadership the UK Government is showing through the Commonwealth, demonstrates that we’re committed to being part of a global solution.

“Two billion people around the world lack access to effective waste collection, so much of the plastic they use ends up in our oceans.”

“Devoting UK international development money to help poor communities clean up and better manage their waste isn’t just good for nature, it’s good for people too.”

Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign encourages people to reduce their single-use plastics. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.skyoceanrescue.com

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