Scale of the pollution: growth of Moscow landfills

Category: Best visualization (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: Russia

Organisation: RBC.Ru

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 13/05/2019

Credit: Dada Lyndell, Julia Sapronova, Anastasia Antipova. Design: Alexander Vagichev, Darya Baryshnikova, Evgeniy Tarasenko. Infografics: Damir Yanayev. HTML: Anastasia Zayceva

Project description:

Every year Russia produces 70 million tons of waste. The tenth part of it – in Moscow. Most of this garbage settles in landfills. RBC shows how they grew around the capital. The research shows that 23 landfills around Moscow occupy about 608 hectares. Some of them, according to the plans of the Moscow region authorities, will grow further. Among the landfills that continue to operate (15 out of 23), one of the largest landfills in the world and the largest operating in Europe, “Timokhovo” — it occupies almost 114 hectares. 

Impact reached:

Many civil activists that strive against new landfills in the Moscow and nearby regions shared this story in their Vkontakte and Facebook groups and Telegram chats. The story gained 50,000 views which is more than average in the RBC website. Some landfills were excluded from the expansion plan of the Moscow government. 

Techniques/technologies used:

Google Earth, Russian Land registry requests to open the data on the owners and the growth of the Landfills, Wikimapia, Python, JSON, Sketch, Adobe Illustrator, Google Spreadsheets, Factiva to get old publication on the story of lanfills, OpenStreetMap, HTML, Javascript

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part of the project was to get information on when government allowed new parts of land to be joined and transformed into the dump. We read lots of documents and got the information from the land register to get it. We discovered not only the current and the past sizes of the landfills but also that some of them are illegal and can not be situated in the places they are. 

What can others learn from this project?

Journalists and public activists can learn using more Google Earth for their projects as well as opening the data through the land register

Project links: