DG Environment asked us to consider how waste management policy and practice would need to change in six Western Balkan countries, each at various stages in the process of acceding to the European Union, in order to align with the waste related part of the EU acquis.
The work was undertaken with LDK Consultants, IVL (the Swedish Environmental Research Institute), and national experts in each of the six countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.
The work began with a detailed assessment of the state of play in each of the six countries. All countries were found to be struggling to deal with a range of issues:
- Roles and responsibilities were not always clearly defined across Ministries and between central and local government (sometimes with the potential for conflicts of interest arising);
- The apparatus for regulating and enforcing existing law was not sufficiently well developed;
- There were very few instruments in place designed to move waste up the hierarchy, either to meet EU targets, or those already written into the national plans: few of the countries had implemented producer responsibility measures of significance;
- At a municipal level, the means to ensure cost recovery for waste management services was problematic, with the political interests of local mayors making it difficult to raise fees;
- The technical and operational capacity of national and local government, as well as regulators, was insufficient for the task in hand;
- The quality of waste data was extremely poor (more so than in other countries where it is also unsatisfactory); and
- The management of hazardous waste – given some legacy problems in some of the countries concerned – was in urgent need of being addressed.
Picture caption: Photo from the final report, figure 3-4: Examples of the varied waste collection infrastructure in the Western Balkans
Based on consultations and workshops with key stakeholders in each nation, roadmaps were developed for each nation based on their specific situations, though with some common themes emerging across the region. As well as the above issues being highlighted for attention, our analysis emphasised how funding coming into the region would need to focus, increasingly, on how to support the development of high capture recycling systems and technologies, recognising that in future, targets that accession states will need to meet are expected to be higher than those in current legislation.
Dominic Hogg, our Chairman and Project Director, said:
“There is a significant challenge facing the Western Balkan countries as they seek to approximate to EU standards for waste management. It will be important that the countries are supported in the right ways, and to do the right things. The prize, though, from better management of waste and moving waste up the hierarchy, will come in the form of benefits for the environment, in terms of jobs, and for the health of populations at large. As such, the limited political priority attached to waste management thus far deserves to be increased in future.”
The national assessments and Roadmaps have been translated into the national languages and are now being used by the Western Balkan countries, and by DG Environment in bilateral policy dialogues, to support the countries’ approximation to EU standards.
The full report is available for free here.