Recycling has not become more common over past decade

Packaging, bio and domestic waste containers.
Packaging, bio and domestic waste containers. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The people of Estonia have not started to recycle more over the past 10 years and the makeup of domestic waste remains largely unchanged. If the state fails to motivate people to recycle, hitting Estonia's climate targets could become problematic.

Even though Estonia has made it a goal to recycle at least 50 percent of paper, plastic, metal and glass waste from domestic households starting in 2020, this has not been achieved yet.

A study by the Stockholm Environment Institute (TAI) Tallinn Center found that the makeup of domestic waste has not changed to a notable degree in the last decade. The relative importance of dangerous waste and electronics has fallen, while the weight of plastic and biowaste has grown.

Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of the Environment Kaupo Heinma said that a third of packaging waste, biowaste, paper, cardboard and glass is still found in domestic waste.

Waste handler Ragn-Sells finds that lack of a convenient system is one of the reasons why the recycling target has not been hit.

"Our surveys show that consumers find it inconvenient to have to solve the packaging puzzle themselves. To go around searching for the right containers," said Rainer Pesti, head of marketing and communication for the company.

Pesti said that container parks are largely public today and amendments to bring them to people's doorstep are in order.

The recycling problem could also be solved with the help of local governments.

"Biowaste or food waste clearly makes up a smaller part of domestic waste in Tallinn because the capital is the only local government that has been practicing separate collection for over a decade. At the same time, as concerns packaging waste, the picture is especially bleak in rural areas where packaging waste collection sites have basically become dumping grounds for all types of waste," said program manager at the Stockholm Environment Institute Harri Moora.

The reference level for recycling of domestic waste will grow by 2025.

Moora said that efforts are needed to raise awareness on the importance of waste sorting, while ensuring a proper system, responsibility, funding and transparency is even more important. "Without it, our willingness to sort waste and drop it off somewhere will not be enough," he added.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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