A recycling pledge made by Poland may leave the country subject to hefty fines if it can’t meet EU standards by the end of the year.
When Poland joined the EU in 2004, it agreed to reduce the amount of waste deposited into its landfills by one-fourth by 2010, according to Polskie Radio.
However, with a looming deadline, the goal seems unattainable. Poland will then be required to pay up to approximately $357,000 per day in fines.
Other countries are held to the same standards and have met their goals. In fact, Ireland reached its EU target for packaging recycling three years ahead of schedule, according to the Belfast Telegraph.
Several states, led by Germany and Sweden, recycle up to 90 percent of their waste, while Poland continues to send 90 percent of its estimated 12 million tons of waste to landfills, according to Eurostat.
Despite the EU legislation in place in Poland, landfills are still the most used means of waste disposal. Many attribute the problem to a lack of efficient recycling systems in the country, as reported by Gazeta Prawna.
Few waste recovery and recycling plants, as well as a lack of organization regarding waste management, make it difficult to form a united national front for recycling.
The KPGO, Poland’s National Waste Management Plan, is unclear in terms of decision-making and regulation. Powers are split between provinces, districts and communes, all at different administrative levels.
Additionally, municipal waste in Poland is not the responsibility of local authorities. Rather, it is subject to free competition.
The European Environmental Press reports that in the Warsaw area alone, 80 companies have obtained a permit for disposing of household waste, resulting in extremely low standards of service. As of 2008, less than 30 percent of waste storage facilities in Poland meet European standards.
Until recently, the market for recycling packaging materials in Poland was also unfavorable. As per the European Commission’s regulations, 60 percent of packaging materials are to be recovered and 25 percent of the packaging is to be recycled. Recovery organizations are now emerging to resolve the problem, according to ekopartner.