Living in Italy and the Netherlands, I’ve gotten used to sorting my trash to recycle paper, glass, but especially plastic trash. While even in Amsterdam the recycling situation is far from fully developed, when I first arrived in St. Petersburg back in 2015 and asked where to throw out plastic, people actually laughed at me. I had to get used to not caring too much about it, but I never stopped nagging my friends here about the need to better deal with our waste.
Nagging works! Especially if it is done collectively. Now, two years later, it seems that the ecological movement is actually picking up and St. Petersburg is starting to recycle. There are frequent eco-actions by concerned citizens, who will collect and sort trash brought to their recycling points, and just a few days ago, the Cultural Committee of the Lenoblast region (which includes St. Petersburg) has banned single-use plastic from cultural events! In fact, I’ve been happy to see more and more restaurants opting for biodegradable cutlery, though I have yet to see a new favorite of mine: bamboo straws.
Of course it’s better to prevent waste than to deal with it, but while the market in packaging slowly changes, we still ought to be responsible for what we consume and throw away. In Moscow, residents will have access to differentiated bins starting from 2019. We can only imagine St. Petersburg will follow suit very soon, but in the meantime, below are a few places you can recycle in St. Petersburg.
One of the better known spots is the Auchan Supermarket (Borovaya Ulitsa, 47): they have a dropoff spot for waste paper (макулатура), glass (стекло), tetrapak containers (пакеты типа тетрапак), certain tipes of plastic (пластик) and aluminum cans (алюминиевые банки). They will not, however, accept hazardous waste (опасный отход) such as electronic waste and chemical waste.
Fear not, though! I have only recently discovered a wonderful recyclemap that will point out all the different options for recycling scattered around the city. On the map, you’ll see what type of objects you can bring where, and at what time. Often, they have phone numbers listed and this would be the safer option: you wouldn’t want to arrive with all your trash and find no one there to take it.. So just call and ask “Вы принимаете …?” [Insert the type of material, and don’t forget to decline them in the accusative!] They should be able to answer whether and when you can go visit.
The recyclemap is still being filled in, so if you see a bin that wasn’t marked on the map, send them a message!
The citizen group “РазДельный сбор” have a monthly action to collect and sort trash in different locations of the city. Usually it takes place on the first Saturday of the month, but be sure to check their site for updates.
Tip: There’s a wonderful chain of recycled clothing and objects called Спасибо – Spasibo! They have several containers spread around the city, where they collect clothing and sort it for recycling, reuse or sale in their shops. Sale proceeds fund their other charity work (благотворительная работа). If you find yourself with too many clothes for your suitcase when you leave Russia, do make sure to drop off your unwanted things with them.
Every little bit helps!
Отход/мусор – waste
Контейнер – bin
Mакулатура – waste paper
Стекло – glass
Тетрапак – tetrapak containers
Пластик – plastic
Алюминиевые банки- aluminum cans
Oпасный отход – hazardous waste
Одежда – clothes
Иное – “other”
Do you have any recycling tips you want to share? Let us know in the comment section below!
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