North Macedonia has launched its first major investment in the modernization of infrastructure for solid waste management in line with European standards. The project will cover more than one million inhabitants in five regions: South-East, South-West, Pelagonia, Polog, and Vardar.
The waste management project will be financed with a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in the amount of EUR 55 million, and donations from various international and governmental institutions. It will be implemented by the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning.
During its implementation, three regional integrated systems for waste management will be established, putting a stop to depositing at aging local landfills, with environmentally safe disposal practices to be introduced in line with EU standards.
Two sanitary landfills will be built
According to the EBRD, the project envisages the construction of new and rehabilitation of existing sanitary landfills, the construction of new transfer stations, infrastructure for waste collection and transportation, and a recycling center, as well as the closure of two landfills.
The project should be supported with investment grants of EUR 24 million and technical assistance estimated at EUR 13.1 million. The donors are the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), and the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF).
The Energy and Water Services Regulatory Commission will expand its competences in the waste sector
SECO’s financial support of EUR 9 million will go towards completing the rehabilitation of the Polog landfill (EUR 6 million) and the development of institutional frameworks at the regional and local level in the solid waste sector (EUR 3 million).
SECO will also fund assistance for the Energy and Water Services Regulatory Commission to expand its mandate in the waste sector.
The project is also expected to receive support from the WBIF in the amount of up to EUR 22.3 million, and assistance worth EUR 2 million for the development of studies in the two regions. Swedish SIDA will provide a EUR 1 million grant for project preparation and implementation.
Nuredini: the first serious investments since the country’s independence
Naser Nuredini, Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning, said that North Macedonia, finally, after 31 years of independence, is seriously investing in the establishment of infrastructure for waste management in line with EU standards.
The new approach will enable the application of a better model of waste collection, transportation and disposal and the construction of two sanitary landfills, Nuredini said.
Goeransson: waste management is key to approaching EU environmental standards
According to Nuredini, apart from the acquisition of modern equipment, the project will include developing habits and raising the awareness of the population about waste selection and the benefits they get from it.
Nuredini signed the loan agreement with Suzan Goeransson, the EBRD’s director for infrastructure for Europe, who noted that modernizing waste management systems and increasing recycling rates are key to reducing pollution, enabling the circular economy, and bringing the country closer to EU environmental standards.