Estonia: Separate collection of waste must be more motivated

Glass Collection (Photo: Austria Glas Recycling)

Tallinn — Working group of waste transportation reform met in the Ministry of the Environment, in order to discuss how to raise the awareness and interest of general public to collect waste separately by types and to ensure stronger competition in waste market, keeping in mind the customer’s best interests. During the meeting, several proposals were made suggesting that in the future it should be more favourable for a customer to give away separately collected waste compared to randomly collected materials.

„By 2020, Estonia undertakes to collect separately and put into circulation at least 50 per cent of household glass and paper waste and packages. Recycling and exploitation of the material, which is collected this way, enables to save large amounts of energy, water and other resources,“ Minister of the Environment Keit Pentus-Rosimannus explained.

Separate collection less than 30 per cent

At the moment, less than 30 per cent of the material ending up in waste is collected separately in Estonia. The working group is of the opinion that in order to make separate collection of waste more popular, it should be convenient, take place near home and be more affordable for the customer compared with random collection.

The second important issue to be included in the waste reform is ensuring sufficient competence in waste market. „Waste market is currently being invaded by a couple of large companies and at some point, decreasing competition will bring along both increase in prices and deterioration of service quality for customers. We cannot accept that“, argued the Minister. Ten years ago there were approximately 16 companies dealing with waste transportation in Estonia. Today there are only two such companies.

To avoid a substantial monopoly

According to the proposals under discussion, in order to avoid a substantial monopoly in the waste market, a customer should have a right to choose the service provider that offers the most favourable price and best quality and thus will not be obligated to use exclusively the services of a one company in the future. Waste market, which is currently relatively closed, would be opened for competition and small companies will also have a right and opportunity to offer their services. „The bigger the competition and the number of actors in the market, the better opportunities for the customers”, stressed Keit Pentus-Rosimannus.

As a result of the reform of organisation of waste transportation, the obligation to join waste transportation system will remain unchanged. However, there will be added an opportunity to choose the service provider offering the best price/ quality ratio. Upon implementation of the reform, it is essential to continue to offer waste transportation service at affordable prices in all the regions of Estonia and ensure funding of waste management for local governments.

Source: Ministry of the Environment, Estonia