Waste Management Situation in Kazakhstan


Current situation overview

Kazakhstan faces problems in two spheres of waste management:

  1. Industrial waste. Continuous generation and accumulation of waste, including hazardous waste (Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), medical waste, etc.).

Almost one third of industrial waste in the country is accumulated in Karaganda region - more than 8.5 billion tons by the end of 2012.

The main volume of emissions in Karaganda region accounts for metallurgical sphere and equals to 70%. This is the share of two major metallurgic companies – Arcelor Mittal Temirtau JSC and Kazakhmys Corporation. In the period from 2008 to 2012 Arcelor Mittal Temirtau has paid the penalty of more than one billion tenge for noncompliance of emission standards, Kazakhmys Corporation - more than 300 million tenge.

According to the results of 2012 the expected decline in total emissions in Karaganda equals to 31% compared to 2008. This is mainly the merit of environmental protection program of a single enterprise - "BalkhashTsvetMet", a subsidiary of Kazakhmys Corporation. In 2008 "BalkhashTsvetMet" has commissioned production on the basis of sulfuric acid. This action has reduced the emissions of sulfur dioxide from 578,000 tons in 2008 to 254,000 tons in 2012.

Industrial waste generation and accumulation in Kazakhstan as of November 12, 2012

*Graph provided by European Environment Agency

  1. Consumption waste. The major issues here are: increase in the formation and accumulation of municipal solid waste; existing state of separate collection, recovery and recycling of municipal waste.

According to the Ministry of Environment, the country has accumulated 23 billion tons of municipal solid waste (MSW). Annual increase of accumulated solid waste equals to 700 million tons. Only 3-5% of garbage is being recycled. About 97% is stored in outdoor dumps.

The greatest amount of MSW is concentrated in Almaty, the most populous city in the country. For the last year city dumps accumulated 470 thousand tons of solid waste.

By today there are 4,587 garbage polygons in the country, 3,927 of which do not meet environmental and health standards. Only 603 polygons (13%) meet the health standards at some extent, and are authorized to emissions to the environment.

Government / Legal aspect

One of the major reasons of the dramatic situation in MSW management in Kazakhstan, named in the Draft Law "On the control of production and consumption waste" (presented in June 2012), is unclear lines of authority and lack of responsibility for MSW management among government authorities:

According to the Environmental Code of Kazakhstan distribution of duties in state structures looks as following:

  • The authorized body in the field of environment protection performs the unified state environmental policy (Article 17) and develops regulations on waste management.

  • The authorized body in the field of municipal services is engaged in the development and implementation of state policy in the field of management of municipal waste (Article 17-1).
  • Local executive bodies organize development of programs for waste management and ensure their implementation; allocate land for construction of facilities for disposal of production and consumption waste, provide construction of facilities for removing and disposal of waste, ensure the observance of environmental requirements in the handling the domestic waste, monitor the volumes of waste and develop measures and economic incentives to reduce waste generation, increase its repeated or alternative use and reduce the amount of waste to be buried (Article 20). Local executive bodies are in charge of creation and operation of infrastructure for small and medium enterprises for the collection, transportation, sorting, recycling and disposal of municipal waste in landfills.

Currently, industrial and municipal waste management issues are regulated by the Environmental Code. Sanitary rules adopted in accordance with the Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan "On the people's health and the health care system" also set the sanitary and epidemiological requirements for the collection, use, application, processing, transportation, storage and disposal of production and consumption waste.

However, the rules of the Environmental Code and other legal acts regulating this area are not fully exploited. Environmental Code establishes only a general provision of waste management as one of the types of emissions. But international experience shows that different types of waste require different rules and standards of treatment.

Strategic Development Plan of the Republic of Kazakhstan till 2020, approved by the Decree of the President as of February 1, 2010 № 922 has indicated the need to optimize the policy of development of "green" low-carbon economy, including matters of investment, environmental issues, reducing the negative impact of anthropogenic pressures, integrated waste management issues.

On June 1, 2011 Minister of Minister of Environment Nurgali Ashimov introduced a bill "On amendments and additions to some legislative acts of Kazakhstan on environmental issues to Majilis (upper house of parliament) of Kazakhstan. Bill aims to increase administrative and criminal penalties for environmental violations. New regulations will come into force on January 1, 2013.

"Due to weak legal framework today it is more profitable for enterprises to pay for waste storage, rather than taking actions for recycling and disposal"- says the official message from Majilis on June 1, 2011.

Waste Processing Facilities

The first municipal waste processing plant in Kazakhstan was opened in December 2007 in Almaty with support of local akimat. Vtorma-Ecology Plant covered 90% of the city’s utilization of municipal solid waste (MSW). At that time Almaty accumulated about 600 tons of garbage per year. During 4.5-5 years, the company was to pay back $ 28 million investments and reach cost recovery by producing secondary materials - PET flex, plastic pellets, paper, ferrous and non-ferrous metals. But to the economic crisis the price of recyclables has fallen in 1,5-3 times, and the plant was not able to cover its costs and pay the loan, issued by "KazKom Bank". In October 2010 the plant was mothballed, criminal case of non-payment the wages was opened on Rustem Parmanbekov, director of the plant, and environmental prosecutor's office estimated the environmental damage in the amount of 7 million tenge.

In September 2012 Agency for Construction, Housing and Utilities of RK has presented the Program of construction of 41 waste processing plants around Kazakhstan within 10-15 years. Particularly, the Agency plans to open 10 plants until 2015.

As the Agency informs, the pilot projects will be launched in Aktobe, Atyrau, Karaganda, Abai, Saran, Shakhtinsk, Kostanay, Pavlodar, Taldykorgan, Taraz, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kokshetau, etc.

These efforts will allow developing specific mechanisms of solid waste management in Kazakhstan and providing investors with one more sphere for investments.

First of the objects within the Program is Astana Waste Processing Plant, which was planned to open in October 2012 and cover all city needs in MSW utilization, with its productivity of 400,000 tons per year. The opening ceremony was held on December 24, 2012. This is the second waste processing plant in Kazakhstan after Almaty plant. The Astana plant was built on basis of Spanish technology.

As regards to Almaty Plant, which is still not operating, the Agency claims that owners have to deal with their economic problems themselves.

The Program also covers Shymkent city, which has a dramatic situation with spontaneously growing dump close to residential areas of the city. For residents of these neighborhoods proximity to the dump has turned into serious health problems. Due to constant acrid smoke and smell of burning people get such diseases as asthma, bronchitis etc.

The plant in Shymkent was planned to be built in 2007: "Construction is scheduled to start next spring and finish by fall," – declared the subcontractor in January 2007. But the choice of the landfill and other issues took more time than planned.

Only in December 2009 an investment agreement with Shymkent Akimat was signed and area for polygon and plant was defined. In Fall 2011 it was again announced that construction of the plant begins. Municipal budget allocated 430 million tenge for the necessary infrastructure needs. Until the end of the year builders acquired approximately 20 million tenge.

But in April 2012, Akimat refused to continue funding the project. For the moment the project is still frozen. Operation of the plant is now under threat due to insufficient funds for restoration and permanent increase of the area of garbage dump.

The Agency for Construction, Housing and Utilities of RK has also named the city of Pavlodar among the first cities, where the plants will be built until 2015. For the moment, Pavlodar Akimat has announced that they have already chosen the place of 100 hectares for the construction of polygon. Work is expected to deploy on the existing city dump.

Another plant is planned to be constructed in Karaganda. By today, "Taza Dal" company was founded to manage this project, places for construction and polygon have been chosen. Now there are negotiations being held with several banks to participate in the project.

Finally, in December 2012 it was announced that the modern MSW processing plant will be built in Aktau with support of EBRD: 2.4 billion tenge (€12.7 million equivalent) loan to State Communal Enterprise Koktem, Aktau’s waste management company, will co-finance the new integrated mechanical-biological treatment facility and a new sanitary landfill. The project will be co-financed by the Clean Technology Fund which is providing a US$ 8 million loan.

The project will also be supported by a capital grant from the state budget.

The Korean Donor Fund provided nearly €300,000 and the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund is providing grants of nearly €800,000 for project management, design, engineering, training, operational improvements and other associated spending.

Some NGOs, businesses and institutions, involved in waste management issues:

  1. EBRD
  2. Every Drop Matters (water partnership initiative of UNDP and The Coca-Cola company)

  3. Kagazy Recycling (the largest producer of paper in CA from recycled paper goods)

  4. Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC), established in accordance with the decision of the 4th Pan-European Conference held in 1998 in Aarhus (Denmark). Founders of CAREC are Central Asian countries consisting of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan , as well as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the European Commission (EC)

  5. Munai Ecology company – involved in Improvement of car fuel quality in Kazakhstan market; Oil sludge treatment; Oil tanks cleaning; Oil emulsion treatment; Oil well squeeze job; Improvement in quality of roads.

  6. Oktan Group – joint Kazakh/Malaysian venture, engaged in the project development known as “Industrial wastes recycling and disposal in the Republic of Kazakhstan”.

Related Exhibitions and Events

EcoTech 2013

3-6 September 2013, Almaty

List of participants in 2012:

Useful links