The Minister of the Environment signed an amendment to the regulation on sorting and classifying municipal waste, specifying the requirements for the collection and sorting of waste.
The amendment to the regulation specified the list of waste types, which must be separately collected at the source. So far, it was required to separately collect paper and cardboard waste, packaging, dangerous waste, and biodegradable garden and park waste. According to the new regulation, glass, plastic, and metal waste, as well as biodegradable kitchen and canteen waste will be added.
“Municipal waste sorting must be carried out according to the established procedures in the same way in each case, regardless of whether the rest of the mass of waste is sent to the combustion plant or turned into waste fuel. The way of thinking that prior sorting of waste is an unnecessary step before the municipal waste is sent to be combusted, is not right and it is not in compliance with the goals of the field of environment and waste disposal,” Minister of the Environment Marko Pomerants explained.
In order to better sort and separately collect waste, three options have been proposed, which may be implemented one at a time or in a complex way that would also be the most practical and efficient depending on the waste type.
One option is to organise the transport of separately collected waste simultaneously with scheduled municipal waste transport, another option is to use public waste collection points and waste plants, and the third option is to organise waste collection circles.
The new regulation also sets out provisions on the waste management plant. “The Government has invested a lot in establishing a network of waste collection plants, but so far, their use has been with low efficiency, since the plants are open only for a short time, and also, at times inappropriate for people. During a working day, it is not possible for a majority of people to take their garbage to the waste management plant,” Head of the Waste Department of the Ministry of the Environment Peeter Eek explained.
In the future, the opening hours of the waste management plant must ensure that people can hand over sorted and separately collected waste at least three times a week, including on one weekend day. It is also specified what kind of waste the waste management plant must accept.
Separate waste collection allows to promote the recycling and other recovery of waste and therefore, to move towards a “recycling society”, which is the most important goal of today’s waste management.
Estonia has set a goal that from 2020 onwards, all paper, metal, plastic, and glass waste from the household, also other separately collected waste from the household and municipal waste from other sources should be recycled at least to the amount of 50 % of the total weight of the waste in a calendar year. For example, large amounts of energy, water and other resources have already been once spent on manufacturing paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, and metal and the recycling of these materials helps to save those resources.
In 2013, a total of 31 % of municipal waste was recycled, therefore, the system of separate waste collection must be further improved and all parties must contribute to this process.
The task of the local government is to ensure that the residents have a clear obligation to sort and separately collect waste and that it would also be possible to transfer this separately collected waste.