News 17 Sep 13

Albania's New Govt Bans Waste Imports

In its first cabinet meeting held on Sunday, the new government of Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama banned waste imports into Albania.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana
A laborer piles up sacks filled with trash at a plastic recycling shop | Photo by : AP Photo/Rafiq Maqboo

The decision, which fulfills a campaign promise, came shortly after Edi Rama’s new cabinet was sworn in by President Bujar Nishani - and may mean that a planned referendum on the issue is no longer necessary.

The Socialists, who won the June 23 parliamentary elections, had said in their campaign that they would outlaw waste imports if they were elected.

“Although we have to see if there are any loopholes left, we welcome the government’s decision,” Aldo Merkoci, of the pressure group Alliance Against Waste Imports, AKIP, told Balkan Insight.

The previous centre-right government of Sali Berisha had allowed some waste imports, arguing that Albania’s nascent recycling industry could not survive on the proceeds of domestic waste alone.

In November 2011 the government approved a bill allowing some waste to be imported as long as it conformed to a so-called “green list” of 55 materials.

Environmental activists joined forces and formed AKIP to condemn the change and to demand a referendum on the issue.

AKIP collected more than 64,000 signatures seeking a referendum on two articles of the law that allowed waste imports into Albania.

The signatures were certified by the Central Electoral Commission, which requires 50,000 signatures for a referendum to go ahead, and the legality of the request was approved by the Constitutional Court.

President Bujar Nishani set December 22 as the day for a referendum on trash imports.

Following the latest ban, however, Merkoci said a referendum might not be necessary. “We have achieved our goal and there is no point in adding extra costs to Albanian taxpayers,” he explained.  

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