Recyclable Waste Import Debated in Albania

The Albanian Assembly approved some legal amendments to allow imports of waste for recycling purposes upon the proposal of the Government.  These amendments to the Law on Integrated Waste Management were drafted to support the aim of the government that the recycling industry has made some major investments which are not backed with raw waste from domestic waste production.

This initiative was strongly objected by the civic society and the overall community opinion is against this reasoning mostly arguing the government’s ability to control the kinds of waste entering the country.  Such position is also based on the poor performance of the private enterprises that actually do waste management at local level and the poor performance of municipalities in controlling and monitoring these enterprises.

Moreover, from reports published in national media, it is certain that the recycling industry is not lacking raw materials as it keeps increasing the financial gains since 2012.

The general situation of waste management in Albania comprises a very high waste production (396 kg per capital in 2015 according to INSTAT) and a very limited waste sorting at the source.  What is more urgent is the coverage of the territory with the waste collection services.

Municipalities, as the crucial actor in a better waste management, are loaded with legal requirements and duties to perform without any detailed and realistic plan and the financial means.  It is now requested that the municipalities deal with source waste sorting but Mayors feel that waste collection and omitting illegal dumping must come first.

The Association of Municipalities supports the idea that this initiative is premature and the focus must be shifted to improving the waste management in the country, which would also benefit the recycling industry more than allowing waste import.  From a quick response with NALAS members, we learned that most of the countries in the region have in force such legislation but this is not a best scenario for Albania with still fragile and young municipalities from multi dimensional reforms.