T. Perga, PhD in History, Senior Researcher

State institution “Institute of World History of National Academy of Science of Ukraine”, Kyiv, Ukraine

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17721/1728-2640.2021.150.9


The article analyzes reuse of waste in the USSR in the 1920s - early 1930s taking the example of rags. The study is done due to the non-disclosure of this scientific problem in the Ukrainian and foreign research. Based on a comparative analysis of the disposal of rags in the Russian Empire and in the USSR (case of Ukraine), the absence of ruptures in the practice of its collection has been proved. This is argued by the recognition of the value of rags as a raw material for the development of a number of industries, for example paper. The conclusion is made about the reconceptualization of waste in the early USSR, which began to be considered as a valuable raw material resource for the needs of the Soviet economy and exports. It was found that the initial interest in collecting rags was due to the need to expand exports in order to obtain additional foreign exchange earnings and purchase deficit in the USSR equipment and goods. However, since the second half of the 1920s, rags were recognized as a valuable resource for the Soviet industry. It was found that with the development of the Soviet economy, the circle of customers of rags expanded and the chemical, haberdashery and construction industries joined the paper and light industry. The similarities and differences of the multilevel mechanism of collecting rags and its main actors in tsarist Russia and in the Soviet Union are revealed. Author analyzed the evolution of its forming and found that in the 1920s, the activity in the collecting rags was decentralized. It was carried out by a wide range of actors as one of the areas of procurement of various types of agricultural and industrial raw materials for the Soviet economy. Author put the question of the need to analyze the dilemma of collecting rags in the context of a total shortage of consumer goods and poverty of the population, which widely used the practice of clothing repair. As a result, garbage often transformed in almost unusable in recycling rags. The author did not identify the environmental motivation for the reuse of rags during this period, but concluded that these activities contributed to the creation of certain elements of waste sorting and storage infrastructure, development and improvement of waste management rules, which established a basis for more efficient and conscious waste management in the second half of the 20th century.

Keywords: consumption, waste, utile, rags, reuse of resources, USSR, Ukrainian SSR, Russian Empire.

Submitted: 22.08.2021

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