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Amendments to the act on maintaining cleanliness. Local governments concerned

07 december 2020
In mid-November, the Sejm - lower chamber of the Polish Parliament adopted a draft act amending the act on maintaining cleanliness and order in municipalities. The adopted bill contains the preparation levels for reuse and recycling of municipal waste which communes will be obliged to achieve in the years 2021-2035.

Despite the fact that the calculation methodology changes, the determination of very low recycling levels for the following years were controversial: 20% for 2021, 25% for 2022, 35% for 2023, 45% for 2024, and only 55% for 2025. Under the current law, municipalities should reach 50% already this year.  The proposed changes assume 55% recycling level in 2025, which is in line with the provisions of the amended waste directive, but there are questions whether it will be possible to attain this goal with such a drastic levels-reduction in the coming years. Such provisions may impact the waste market and contribute to the increase in the mass of waste processed through incineration or landfilling, i.e. against the recycling principles.

"The Polish government should primarily focus on using the 2021-2027 perspective to finance the Green Transformation the Polish recycling industry is a part of. Lower recycling levels mean huge costs for the budget and incurred by the Plastic Tax, which will amount to up to PLN 2 billion in 2021.  We cannot afford to incinerate waste, and this is neither economically nor environmentally feasible.  Material recycling is climate-neutral and brings benefits to all social groups" -Szymon Dziak-Czekan, president of the Polish Recycling Association, shares his observations.

Local governments associated in the Union of Polish Metropolises postulated to maintain the methodology regarding level calculation based on the existing solutions until 2024, i.e. until the implementation / dissemination of technologies enabling the achievement of higher recycling levels.  They informed that achieving the recycling level of 50% of the total municipal waste stream calculated according to the new rules requires the preparation in terms of infrastructure, securing installations for waste and bio-waste recycling.

"The targets are increased up to 10% annually until 2025. It will be possible to meet the targets only if decisive, radical and quick actions are taken to improve segregated-at-source collection, impose obligations, including the deposit system. An immediate strengthening of the recycling infrastructure, including the organic fraction, is also required" says Piotr Barczak from the European Environmental Bureau.

"In order to achieve such a high rate in 2025, the government and local governments should take decisive action designed to reduce the total amount of waste generated. Preventive measures are of key importance: withdrawal of difficult and non-recyclable products and packaging from the market, support for reusable solutions, i.e. bottles, diapers-producers, second-hand stores, promotion of tap-water drinking, reduction of waste in public institutions, prevention of food waste, and many others," adds Joanna Kądziołka from the Zero Waste Polska Association.

Currently, we witness many municipalities' struggle; there has been a large increase in fees for collecting waste from residents. This is the consequence of changes in the laws. These legal provisions resulted in the liquidation of the so-called grey zone in the waste market, including illegal dumping of waste in illicit landfills.

"Growing levels of recycling have been known for more than two years, since the adoption of the revised directives. Nevertheless, the government and local governments are not taking steps to improve the level and quality of separate-at-source waste collection. We keep still focusing on mixed waste and the construction of incinerators. Both the economy and the environment are losing out because of that" says Paweł Głuszyński from the Society for the Earth.

Source of information:  "Polish Recycling" Association

 

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