New EU requirements to substantially increase garbage fees ({{commentsTotal}})

Recycling bin. Image is illustrative.
Recycling bin. Image is illustrative. Source: (Siim Lõvi/ ERR)

The National Audit Office warned in a report last winter that Estonia needs to avoid a sudden increase of garbage fees a plan of the Ministry of the Environment is likely to provoke. According to the ministry’s deputy secretaries general for waste policy, the increase is recommended in an analysis by the European Commission.

The Commission is issuing recommendations three years ahead of the entering into force of new requirements. For Estonia, points that are potentially problematic include a recommended increase in deposit fees to be paid for garbage dumped at landfills, the fact that Estonia has recently given preference to waste disposal solutions that involve burning garbage, and that relatively little of Estonia’s commercial and household waste is recycled.

While the move towards burning waste was greatly welcomed and in combination with the production of energy has led to a situation where garbage on occasion has even become a rare fuel source, policy shifts in the European Union now mean that member states have to focus on recycling as part of a general move towards a circular economy.

Which in turn means that in the future having waste burned will have to come with a fee. According to deputy secretary general at the Ministry of the Environment, Ado Lõhmus, this is exactly what the Commission recommended in an analysis earlier this year, daily Eesti Päevaleht reported on Tuesday.

As it is already clear that Estonia won’t be able to meet the EU’s new requirements concerning waste processing by 2020, there is the question whether or not this means that Estonia will have to pay a fine.

According to Lõhmus, this can be avoided if Estonia follows the recommendations of the Commission and at least tries to push for new national policy that will take it closer to the EU’s overall goals. If the country should refuse to follow the recommendations, then a fine could become a reality.

Lõhmus explained that the plan to increase the disposal fees, which will introduce fees for the burning of waste as well as double the fee to deposit waste at landfills, is a “means the aim of which is to motivate waste disposal companies”.

“We can try to get residents to separate recyclable waste, but if we don’t back companies’ motivation then there’s no point,” Lõhmus said.

Editor: Dario Cavegn



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