Data from Eurostat shows that in 2017 Latvian households created 851 000 tonnes of household waste, which is 21% more when compared to 2013, when households created 704 000 tonnes of waste, as reported by waste management company AS Latvijas Zaļais punkts.
Only 23.3% of the total volume of waste was recycled, whereas the average for waste recycling in the EU is 46.3%. This proves that the new state waste management plan should include complex solutions to help reduce waste volumes and increase recycling output, comments the company.
«Public survey data shows that the number of Latvian residents who sort their waste continues increasing. The same can be said for volumes of sorted waste. On top of that, waste-free lifestyle movements are becoming more and more popular. But our overall consumption and volume of produced waste grow more rapidly than that,» says Latvijas Zaļais punkts director Kaspars Zakulis. «At the same time, Latvia is committed to recycling at least 50% of household waste by 2025. This is why we need comprehensive solutions aimed at not only sorting waste but also preventing generation of waste and replacing, where possible, waste with recycled materials. It is important to not only collect and sort waste, but also to make sure collected waste is recycled to make new raw materials. By burying waste in waste polygons we basically bury our resources, money and economic growth potential.»
Zakulis also notes that approximately a quarter of collected waste consists of packaging of different kind, 60% of which is recycled into usable materials.
According to data from Eurostat, a single EU resident produces 488 kg of household waste a year. In the past five years Latvia has come close to the average index in this regard, with every one Latvian resident creating 438 kg of waste in 2017 when compared to 350 kg in 2013. Since 2013, the volume of household waste generated by Latvian residents per capita has grown 25%. This can be explained with decreased population and the fact that with economy growing steadily, so does people’s consumption, explains Latvijas Zaļajs punkts.
According to Zakulis, policy-makers should not focus on some narrow waste category when creating the waste management policy, but create complex solutions to help reduce waste volumes and ensure wide recycling options. When it comes to packaging, it is important to define on a national level that recycled packaging costs less, whereas non-recycled packaging costs more to help motivate producers switch to using recycled packaging.
In regards to adoption of a bottle deposit system, Zakulis recommends creating a system that fits the varied range of packaging, as well as providing residents a convenient and accessible waste-sorting infrastructure. It is also necessary to analyse solutions for sorting biodegradable waste, which is set to commence in 2021, as well as sorting textile waste, sorted collection of which is to be adopted by 2025.
Latvijas Zaļais punkts also stresses that it is important to continue creating nation-wide waste-sorting infrastructure and reduce differences between different regions in Latvia. For example, Riga, which produces 40% of Latvia’s waste, has one of the worst developed waste-sorting infrastructures in Latvia.