Albania is modernising its solid waste management systems
Title: Modernised, climate-friendly solid waste and recycling management in Albania
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Tourism and Environment
Overall term: 2020 to 2023
Albania was granted EU candidate status in 2014. As part of its process towards EU integration, it is working to align its environmental standards to those of the EU. As such, 2020 saw Albania reach mid-level transposition progress of 48 per cent for Chapter 27 of the EU acquis, which is titled “Environment and Climate Change”.
Albania processed approximately one million tonnes of household waste in 2019. Some 78 per cent of this was treated in landfills and disposed of with varying degrees of environmental control. About 19 per cent was segregated for recycling. Organic waste, which is about 50 per cent of disposed waste, leads to methane generation, a potent greenhouse gas. Landfill gases and leachate pollute both water and soil, endangering agriculture and drinking water supplies.
Albania’s waste-management practices are still dominated by a linear collect-and-dispose approach instead of integrated sustainable waste-management. However, the recently adopted National Waste Management Strategy (2020 – 2035) has developed a roadmap towards integrating the principles of the circular economy and extended producer responsibility.
The concept of the polluter-pays principle is not currently well developed in Albania and the costs of providing a basic minimum standard of waste disposal are recovered in only a few cities.
Albania is adopting the principles of the circular economy and introducing integrated waste-management systems thus bringing it closer to implementing EU standards relevant to the environment and climate change.
Nationally, the project supports the Ministry of Tourism and Environment (MoTE) in implementing the updated National Strategy for Integrated Waste Management. An improved data management system improves the reporting activities of MoTE and the National Environmental Agency (NEA) by providing verified data on municipal waste and the potentials for greenhouse gases reductions.
The NEA also receives assistance in improving service providers licensing using Information Technology (IT) systems. Inspection and regulation processes are now carried out based on agreed performance indicators and standard contracts, and violations of environmental standards are sanctioned.
Locally, the project collaborates closely with six partner cities to introduce climate-sensitive waste management. These focus on recovery, more recycling, waste separation at source, and have introduced composting. In addition, municipal services are being professionalised and awareness campaigns carried out.
By 2022, five partner municipalities will be able to recover and trade in secondary resources and treat special waste. What is more, the aim is to have 8,000 households in six municipalities separate wet from dry waste to facilitate composting and recycling.
The project is also helping to upgrade/rehabilitate six existing waste disposal sites as a stop gap measure while infrastructure and budgetary improvements are made to enable adherence with regional waste management plans. The best practices developed at for these sites will be applied for the operation of other existing municipal landfills.
The introduction of climate-friendly, resource-efficient and economically viable waste management has reduced health risks and environmental pollution in the medium term. Diverting green waste from landfill to composting and recycling secondary resources has led to a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. This process has also saved energy and resources, created jobs in the resource recovery sector and contributed towards the European Green Deal.
The project has also made a strong cross-sectoral impact on good governance at the municipal administrative level. Professionalisation in the planning and operation of waste collection, recycling, recovery and disposal has brought Albania closer to EU environmental standards.
Furthermore, the reduction in marine litter and pollutants into the Adriatic, and the promotion of controlled waste disposal has substantially reduced waste being washed into the sea.
Last update: May 2021