While adoption of the new law is being protracted, the amount of waste deposited in temporary landfills, which should have been abolished and permanently disposed of long ago, is piling up throughout the country.
Waste management is one of the sub-sections of Chapter 27 – Environment and climate change, which is considered one of the most complex and financially demanding chapters in the process of Montenegro’s accession to the European Union. The waste management process is very specific and includes a wide range of stakeholders, including citizens, utility companies, local governments, landfill systems, recycling yards, recyclers, and the private sector. Everyone has their part to play in the waste management system and it is very important to analyze and understand the needs and abilities of each individual participant in the system when designing policies in this field.
Containers for separate collection of waste for several waste categories were installed in Podgorica about 10 years ago, which was the first time for Montenegro. In addition to citizens’ reluctance to accept this system and start separating waste into the components for which the infrastructure in the form of containers was provided, there was also the reluctance of institutions to follow through and implement this process in full. The project failed because it was not adequately implemented.
Montenegro recently began implementing the concept of separating waste into dry and wet fractions. This concept implies that material that is recycled is separated in one bin, while organic waste and that which is not recycled is disposed of in the wet fraction bin. This project is yet to produce desired results and percentage of recycling is officially around 1%.
The new law on waste management, which was supposed to give answers and provide the direction in which the issue of waste management in Montenegro will go in the future, as well as lay the foundation for the creation of strategic documents in this area at both local and national levels, has been in the process since 2017. Public debate on this law was held in August 2018, yet the law has not been adopted. It has been drafted in accordance with comments and suggestions made by different parties, and the Montenegrin public as of now does not know which version of the law could eventually be adopted. For this reason, Green Home has insisted on a repeat of the public discussion. Meanwhile, EU directives are changing and adapting too. The directive on single-use plastics was recently adopted, which prohibits the use of a wide range of single-use plastic items, such as plastic bags, straws and similar items, which should also be covered by the new law in Montenegro. The new law was supposed to be the foundation for the preparation of a National Waste Management Plan for the period from 2022 to 2027, as well as local waste management plans. This activity is being prolonged too.
While adoption of the new law is being protracted, the amount of waste deposited in temporary landfills, which should have been abolished and permanently disposed of long ago, is piling up throughout the country in numerous illegal landfills by the sides of roads, on river banks, next to settlements, in villages and other locations…
An addition to this problem is that utility companies that operate at the local level often do not have the financial or human capacity to deal with problems in this area independently, and they must receive support from state level, at least at the level of the strategic direction in which they need to move. They must be assisted by other authorities responsible for municipal affairs when it comes to this issue, including the municipal inspection, the municipal police and, in many situations, the environmental inspection.
Azra Vuković, Executive Director of NGO Green Home