Waste management in Albania: An opportunity to demonstrate commitment to EU integration
May 2019 – Waste management is one of Albania’s biggest environmental challenges, along with water and air pollution, land degradation, and biodiversity loss. In 2011, the government drafted an ambitious National Strategy on Waste Management that aimed to align the country’s legislation in this policy field to EU regulations. However, recent investments in the development of three waste incineration plants have raised serious concerns among environmental experts, civil society activists, local communities, as well as European Commission, because these type of systems release hazardous carcinogenic and toxic chemicals that pollute the air, water, and soil. Thus, building these incinerators can have serious implications for public health and the environment in Albania.
In addition, the planning and construction of these plants have been non-transparent, possibly rigged, and not in line with international standards. This paper contends that the Albanian government has an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to EU integration by reconsidering its current approach to waste management. By prioritising recycling over incineration, Albania can show that it is serious about fulfilling the obligations of EU membership deriving from Chapter 27: Environment.