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Minister: Municipalities must bring waste management in line with the law

Erki Savisaar..
Erki Savisaar.. Source: ERR

Local governments should bring their waste management regimes in line with current Estonian law, including with regard to burning refuse, environment minister Erki Savisaar (Center) says.

Speaking to Vikerraadio show "Uudis+" Friday, Savisaar said so far, compliance with the law has not been carried out.

As a result, new contracts need drawing up in relation to waste management and recycling, he said.

Savisaar made his remarks in the context of Friday's edition of daily Postimees (link in Estonian), which reported that the burning of refuse is at a higher level than ever before in Estonia, notwithstanding the law.

He said: "The [Postimees] article draws attention to some important issues. If we examine the situation, most of the regulations date back to 2009, but it is true that there has not been any active monitoring of compliance with the rules."

At the same time, incineration is better than landfill sites, in terms of refuse hierarchies, Savisaar added.

Nonetheless: "The serious problem is that by 2025 we will have to recycle 55 percent of our waste. This needs serious attention, because we are not doing that at present."

"We are also bringing this to the attention of local governments, which must meet their bio-waste obligations by the end of next year at the latest, though they can still do so today too," the minister continued.

Savisaar says that reaching the goal of a circular economy means everyone, not just refuse firms and local governments, need to make some changes in their activities.

"The environment ministry or the minister themselves cannot achieve this. The greatest opportunities lie with local authorities, which are closest to the public and are responsible for organizing waste disposal. My solution would be to grant municipalities the tools they need, in order to progress towards their goals. Hitherto the hope has been that all issues relating to waste management get solved by the power of the market, and by the power of miracle, but in practice the past 10-20 years have demonstrated that this has not been the case."

In any case waste disposal firms have had things too easy up until now, meaning that local government will have to address the issue, including removing the possibility of mixed municipal waste being disposed of.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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