Albania will import only recyclable materials, not hazardous waste, PM Rama says

Albania will import only recyclable materials, not hazardous waste, PM Rama says Edi Rama/facebook

TIRANA (Albania), September 26 (SeeNews) - A bill allowing imports of waste for recycling purposes approved by Albania's parliament has sparked a heated political debate in the country.

According to prime minister Edi Rama, the law will only allow imports of materials such as paper, plastics, aluminium and wood, and it does not provide for burying or burning of waste.

The imports of waste marterials will supply the existing processing plants in Albania certified by the European Union and the waste processing will not pollute the environment, Rama has said in a video posting following last Thursday's adoption of the controversial legislation by parliament .

"The only thing we did was to allow local plants to buy paper, plastics, aluminium and wood waste to compensate their shortage," Rama added.

The new bill is awaiting approval by president Bujar Nishani to take effect.

The import and recycling of waste will be managed through a public private partnership (PPP), local TV broadcaster TopChannel quoted Rama as saying on Monday. He added that the new law would have a positive impact on the country's economy, adding 1,000 new jobs.

According to Rama, Albania has to follow into Europe's path and start collecting separately its own recyclable waste but currently the country has to import waste to meet the needs of its recycling industry.

"The factories can not do the job of citizens and municipalities," Rama said earlier.

Opposition Democratic Party (DP) has expressed concern in parliament and on social media over the political will and ability of Rama's government to control the type of waste entering the country. DP leader Lulzim Basha claimed on Facedbook on Sunday that the bill was allegedly motivated by criminal interests.

Edi Rama and the governing Socialist Party opposed a similar bill drafted by DP when that party was in power. In 2013, the DP government led by prime minister Sali Berisha wanted to adopt a law allowing for imports of non-hazardous waste. Rama said at the time that huge financial interests were the only reason why mafia looked at countries like Albania unable to control waste imports.

Albania is neither better prepared to allow waste imports now, nor is the current government more reliable, the DP believes.

"The waste business is dangerous and problematic even in more developed and consolidated countries around the world, what to say about Albania, [...] where the government is unable to control the territory planted with cannabis, where the administration is unable to control waste imports, and where the civil society is neither obliged, nor able to monitor waste imports," PD member of parliament Albana Vokshi said in parliament on Thursday.

According to Rama, the new law has some essential advantages compared to the law Berisha's government planned to pass in the parliament in 2013. The old bill envisaged that waste could be imported with the purpose of being buried or burnt, Rama said, according to TopChannel. The previous draft also made it possible for every importer of waste to be licensed, whereas the one drafted by Rama and his supporters was much more restrictive.

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