Non-state Actor in Waste Disposal in the USSR: Activities of “Ukrutilzbir” in the 1920s

Keywords: waste, recycling, utilization, USSR, Ukrainian SSR, Gostorg, Rusavstorg, Rudmetaltorg, Ukrbumtrest, rags, bones, scrap metal, paper


The article explorers the activity of the joint-stock company «Ukrutilzbir», which during 1923 – the 1930s was one of the largest waste collectors in the Ukrainian SSR and during period under study successfully competed with such state agencies as Gostorg, Rusavstorg, Rudmetaltorg, Ukrbumtrest, etc. This topic has not been studied in domestic and foreign historiography. The article is based on the analysis of archival materials, which were at first put into scientific circulation. It has been shown that the emergence of the non-state actor was stimulated by the growing demand of industrial enterprises, which in the 1920s have experienced resource hunger in raw materials as well as the large capacity of the Ukrainian waste market. It was found that the first charitable motives of the company’s establishment were soon changed by the commercial interest in waste collection and recycling, but this did not diminish the importance of its activities for the development of waste management policies in the 1920s. The article reveals the main activities of the company (collection and sale of paper, scrap of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, rags, bones, rubber, and glass), its achievements, and problems. It was concluded that «Ukrutilzbir» has managed to build relevant infrastructure as well as an effective network, attracting to cooperation a wide range of both state and non-state actors, consumer cooperation societies, private waste collectors. It has not only taken up a significant share of the waste-collection market, influencing its formation but has also contributed to the development of standards of their utilization and recycling (collection, sorting, storage, and transportation) and preparing the skilled workers. However, with the establishment of the socialist economic system, the organization found itself in a situation of unequal competition with state actors, which had different preferences and access to financial resources. This led to its exclusion from the market and closure.


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How to Cite
Perga, T. (2022). Non-state Actor in Waste Disposal in the USSR: Activities of “Ukrutilzbir” in the 1920s. The Journal of V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University. Series: History, (61), 110-131.