Albanian opposition parties demand referendum on waste imports

Albanian opposition parties demand referendum on waste imports
By bne IntelliNews September 21, 2017

Albanian opposition parties have asked for a referendum to be held to end a six-year debate on whether the country should permit waste imports. 

The controversial issue erupted last year, when MPs voted to allow waste imports. Recently, however, the governing Socialist Party withdrew the draft law on waste imports and Prime Minister Edi Rama said that that the issue would be returned to the public for a full debate.

Recycling companies have been pushing for waste imports to be allowed, saying that there is not enough suitable raw material in the country. The Albanian Waste Recyclers Association says waste is not currently separated by the local authorities, which makes it harder for the 42 local firms to get the material they need. 

However opponents say that imports should be banned at least until Albania is able to manage the waste generated within the country. They also fear that opening the door to waste imports could allow the country to become a dumping ground for toxic waste from richer countries. 

Florjon Mima, an MP from the opposition Democratic Party, called on September 20 for the “game for garbage” to end, and for a popular referendum on waste imports to be held, a Democratic Party statement said. 

The amount of urban waste managed in Albania was around 1.3mn tonnes in 2016, down by 8% from a year earlier, the statistics institute said on September 21. Most of the waste collected — 77.7% — went to landfills and other storage places approved by the relevant local government bodies. Just 17.2% of the total waste was recycled, compared to 25.3% in 2015. 

The annual amount of waste generated per capita amounted to 373 kg in 2016 compared to 396 kg per capita in 2015, the statement said.

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