Waste selection slightly increased last year, but 82.7% of waste still ends up “mixed” in landfills


The waste selection remains an unsolvable problem for the households and the companies in the households and the companies in North Macedonia. In 2021, most of the communal waste that we have created, without any selection and depositing in separate containers, ended up in the landfills across the country as mixed waste. According to the data from the State Statistical Office , 522,914 tons of collected waste from the waste disposal bins represents a mixed communal waste that has ended up in the landfills.

In percents, 82.7% of the collected waste is actually mixed communal waste that hasn’t gone through the selection process. Paper, plastics, metals, organic waste, glass and other waste materials end up together in the bins from where the municipal public enterprises are collecting and transporting it to the landfills.

Compared to previous years, the awareness for waste selection, together with the efforts of the non-governmental sector and part of the companies led to a gradual, but slow increase in the percentage of selected waste. Last year, compared to 2020, the percentage of the mixed communal waste has decreased by 0.7% and an increase in the selection percentage was noticed in the organic waste (from 6.3 to 6.6%), plastic (from 1,8 to 2%), paper (from 1.7 to 1.9%), glass (from 0.5 to 0.6%), and a decrease was noticed among the selected textile waste (from 1.6 to 1.4%).

In tons, in 2021, 41,687 tons of organic waste, 12,871 tons of plastic, 12,263 tons of paper, 8,737 tons of textile waste, 3,713 tons of glass, 2,241 tons of metal and 1,598 tons of rubber were selected. In the category of remaining collected waste from public communal enterprises, there are 26,063 tons, and there is no information on whether it was selected or not.

Compared to the statistical data dating from 5 years ago, the percentage of mixed communal waste collected in the country has decreased from 87.2% in 2017 to 82.7% i.e. the percentage of waste that is selected has increased by 4.5%. Even though this is a step forward, still it is a too slow step forward for North Macedonia toward a modern waste treatment in accordance with EU’s standards.

It is noticeable that the Skopje region represent the biggest part of the communal being collected nationwide, and last year PE Communal Hygiene Skopje has managed to select only 0.32 % of the total collected waste in the capital . This percentage share is far less than the national percentage of selected waste that recently was published by the State Statistical Office.

Drisla, the biggest landfill in the country is under the jurisdiction of the City of Skopje,
and Meta.mk already informed that it isn’t performing a secondary waste selection and it has no plant for waste recycling, composting or incineration plants, and a modern waste treatment was implemented only for medical waste.

Due to negligence on the municipality level, the waste selection was left to a non-profit company Pakomak and other licensed waste selects in the country, and primarily, to informal waste collectors.

Between 3,000 to 5,000 people fight for their existence by selecting waste. Because of the underdeveloped infrastructure with different containers for waste selection and the low awareness among the people, the informal collectors are selecting the waste from the containers for all of us. It is estimated 90% of the waste plastic selection in the country is done by these people.

Starting from last year, the social enterprise “REDI Recycling” has started working, and at the moment it is selecting waste paper and plastic from the buildings in some areas in the municipalities of Skopje and has started the process of formalization of the – waste gatherer profession in this country.

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