Terraforming Blog

Remembering the Soviet Era: Waste Separation Posters

Waste collection in Russia has a rather long history. In Russia, the use of secondary raw materials was organized at the state level for the first time in 1564, when a state-owned paper mill began to use secondary canvas raw materials.

In the Russian Empire, this was done by junk dealers who bought up household items that had served their time (metal, rubber, etc.) from the population.In 1714, Peter I issued a decree on the collection of canvas raw materials in the St. Petersburg province, setting purchase prices for it. Monthly accounting of raw materials was carried out.

The Soviet Union continued this tradition.

Almost immediately after the revolution, in the 1920s, by the personal order of V. Lenin, a campaign for "import substitution" began — it was necessary to save and use their internal resources, in particular recyclables, and not to import them from abroad. In the period from 1917 to 1920, V. Lenin signed about 100 decrees on this topic.

So the first points for receiving waste were opened: scrap metal in the USSR was collected by two enterprises - "Vtorchermet" and "Vtortsvetmet", waste paper and rags - a network of receiving points-stores "Stimul". He supervised their work "Soyuzglavtorsyrye" - "The Main Department for procurement, supply and use of secondary raw materials under the State Council of the USSR", as well as"The Institute for the collection of recyclable materials".

"Every pioneer must hand over 15 kg of waste paper to the state and
two pioneers who did not do it" (soviet joke)

The standards established the amount of recyclable materials that students need to take annually. The best were awarded with diplomas, vouchers to camps, etc.

There was a system of competitions within the school between classes, between individual schools of the city, etc.

The school received from 2 to 20 kopecks per kilogram of waste for the successful collection of waste paper.​

In Moscow and St. Petersburg, there was a network of recycling collection points, which was not inferior to similar points in large European cities, and collected almost 1/3 of the total recyclable materials of the USSR annually.

In cities, it was possible to hand over recyclable materials at large stores, where they were weighed and offered to exchange it for any product at the discretion of the person who handed it over. Some things could be bought only after the delivery of a certain number of kilograms of rags, for example, a tape recorder, a Rubik's cube.​

A bottle of milk = 28 kopecks.# nbsp;

1 bottle of milk = 15 kopecks / 1 loaf of bread / chocolate / ice cream.

There were also special collection points for recyclables, which were usually located on the outskirts of the city, where large volumes were handed over more often at once.

20 kg of waste paper could be exchanged for a new rare book.

1 ton of waste paper-for 20 rubles and 50 copies of books.

One ton of waste paper allowed to produce a thousand books.

Thus, 2.6 million tons of waste were collected from the population and more than 130 million books from recycled materials were published. ​

The recycling rate was 22%.

Almost 90% of the collected recyclables were again delivered to the consumer in the form of packaging and toilet paper.

The success of recycling collection campaigns depended on the effectiveness of work with the population, one of the main tools of which was the Soviet educational poster, which became a classic.

It was believed that accessible and competent information would contribute to the formation of an informed attitude of the population to the production and processing of waste in general.

Among the famous authors: B. Reshetnikov, V. Kabanov, I. Ermolova.

However, many more works were created by artists whose names, alas, are unknown.

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