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The Environmental Board restricts the import of waste into Estonia

Photo: Erik Kosenkranius
Photo: Erik Kosenkranius

Do you collect waste separately?
Landfill is moving in the wrong direction, increasing steadily. Therefore, the Environmental Board restricts the import of waste into Estonia.

One of the criteria for the success of waste policy is the volume of waste disposed of. The less waste goes to the landfill, the better. The Environmental Board aims to minimize the amount of waste or recycle it as different materials. According to unofficial statistics, however, the disposal of mixed municipal waste and construction demolition waste in Estonia has been increasing for the fourth consecutive year. Compared to 2017, landfill of mixed municipal waste increased by 9% and landfill of construction demolition waste by 35%.

Why the waste is deposited so much?
Waste managers consider the poor quality of Estonian waste to be the reason for this development. For example, waste containing organic matter is difficult to recycle. China's large waste market has also disappeared, as the Chinese government decided last year to outlaw the import of several types of waste into the country.

In this situation, European countries still managed to emulate positive developments. A good example here is Finland, where waste disposal has been decreasing year by year and in 2018 only 1% was disposed of. However, it must be acknowledged that Finnish waste exports have shown a steady upward trend. Last year, Finland exported over 300,000 tonnes of waste, nearly a third of which reached Estonia.

What would be the solution then?
The Environmental Board considers it crucial that only such waste is brought to Estonia where we have the capacity to handle it in the best possible way. Therefore, we restrict the import of waste into Estonia by refusing to grant a transboundary permit in justified cases.

Erik Kosenkranius,
Environmental Board

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