Author: Dusan Bosiljanov, Attorney-at-Law for Energy and Employment at CMS North Macedonia
The main purposes of developing waste management policies are to reduce the negative impact on the environment, increase awareness of waste management, and provide conditions for balanced regional development in the field of waste management.
To improve the conditions for large investments, attract foreign and domestic capital, increase competitiveness and employment, as well to protect the environment and Macedonian citizens’ quality of life, it is very important to have an accurate picture of the current status of waste management and potential development possibilities.
The general waste management policy framework has been established and determined by the Law on Waste Management (“Waste Management Law”), which provides the legal ground for the adoption of several bylaws and some significant main policy documents, as follows:
- Waste management strategy – To define long-term needs in the field of waste management, as well as the necessary legislative measures required to implement them;
- Waste management plan – Assesses the current situation, providing basic recommendations, activities, and investments, as well as funds and financial mechanisms in the waste management process for the next six years;
- Waste management programmes – Prepared for each year and adopted by the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning and by the local self-government units involved in waste management; and
- Waste management programmes – Prepared for each of the three-year periods that legal entities and individuals are involved in waste management.
The current legislation on waste management is based on the concept of hierarchy in waste management. This means that ideally waste should be prevented altogether, and what cannot be prevented should be reused, recycled, or recycled as much as possible. Landfill should be used as little as possible as it is the worst option for the environment and entails a loss of resources.
The hierarchy in waste management should not be considered an easy-to-reach, quickly achievable goal, especially given the many methods of waste treatment, all of which have different environmental impacts. However, the goal of moving towards waste recovery and recycling involves a hierarchy in waste management that reduces landfill use.
Preventing the generation of waste is crucial because reduction also means reducing the need to collect and treat waste, both of which correspond to costs and environmental impact. Preventing the generation of waste involves using materials, goods, services in such a way that their production, use, reuse, recycling results in the least amount waste possible.
Perhaps the biggest challenge is establishing an appropriate waste recycling cycle. Incinerating waste to produce energy is another way avoiding landfills. Disposing of waste in landfill is the option of last resort the waste management hierarchy but is still the most common method used in our country. Landfills in our country are often improperly managed and do not meet the minimum standards in terms of environmental and human health. It is a great challenge to meet certain standards in landfill construction and to close improperly managed and maintained sites.
In practice, the tasks and competencies in the field of waste management are divided between several institutions in the country, where there is little overlap between several government institutions or between government and municipal institutions. The preparation, adoption, and implementation of primary and secondary legislation must be carried out jointly or in cooperation with other ministries, bodies, municipalities, the product/service sector, and other stakeholders, but there seems to be some ambiguity regarding roles and competences, as well as a lack of communication and coordination.
Waste management in our country is still a problem, because the amount of waste is constantly growing, and legislation in some cases is poorly implemented.
However, as a developing country in this area, the overall general and specific strategic goals must reflect the obligations of the whole of Macedonian society regarding the significant, equally important, and closely interrelated changes in waste management, such as:
i) harmonizing policies and legislation in the field of waste management;
ii) establishing an effective institutional and organizational set-up; iii) strengthening human resources capacities;
iv) introducing stable financial resources and appropriate economic mechanisms to ensure full cost recovery for the maintenance of the integrated waste management system;
v) establishing a technically modern waste management system;
vi) applying efficient and cost-effective techniques for managing separated waste streams; and
vii) gradually closing and/or remediating existing municipal landfills and/or industrial ecological hotspots.
The main purposes of developing waste management policies are to reduce the negative impact on the environment, increase awareness of waste management, and provide conditions for balanced regional development in the field of waste management. It is possible to expect that by achieving these goals, Macedonia will create better conditions for and hence encourage and attract investments in North Macedonia in the field of waste management, investment that should result in economic growth, employment, and the application of new technologies and innovations.
With this development, the potential investors could kickstart a large investment cycle in the country, not only at the state but also the local level. This could have a positive impact on the country’s competitive advantage, as well as the well-being and living conditions of Macedonian citizens in general.