Why should we care about this issue
Waste is an inevitable by-product of human activities and households. The use of natural resources in inefficient production processes results in inevitable losses, including waste objects and materials that are either unsuitable for consumption or unnecessary. Although manufacturing waste has decreased as a result of environmental and economic measures, growing consumption and changes in the presentation of goods have increased the amount of municipal waste. Reducing the amount of waste generated and managing it rationally are still among the most pressing environmental priorities for Lithuania.
The state and impacts
Fig. 1 Total quantity of waste generated 2004–2007 (excluding waste from forestry, farming and agriculture) *Waste generated in forestry, farming and agriculture was assessed in separate studies in 2004 and 2006. The results were added to the total quanti
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The total quantity of waste generated in Lithuania has been increasing since 2004 and municipal waste in particular has been growing at a steady rate. In 2007, municipal waste per capita was 401 kg, an increase of 11 kg on 2006. This indicator is closely related to consumption and has been growing steadily since 2004. Although the quantity of waste per capita in Lithuania is one of the lowest among the European Union Member States, the target of 300 kg of municipal waste per capita is looking less realistic (Fig. 2).
In 2007, the quantity of packaging per capita released on the domestic market amounted to 101 kg against 84 kg in 2006. Despite the significant increase, this indicator remains one of the lowest among EU Member States. Since 2006, Lithuania has not been performing well in terms of the recycling of glasspackaging. In fact, the volume of plastic packaging on the domestic market has grown more rapidly than the recycling rate for this waste. In 2007, 824 thous. ( 256 thous. recycled in LT) tonnes of secondary raw materials collected in Lithuania were recovered, which was 4 % more than in 2006. However, this figure included a 13 % increase in paper recycling and a 4 % increase in the recovery of metal waste (Fig. 3). The amount of glass and plastic recycled has been decreasing ever since 2005, reaching levels of 3 % and 5 % respectively in 2007. The management of these secondary raw materials is inadequate and this has a negative effect on recycling efforts for glass and plastic packaging waste. The waste recycling rate in Lithuania is only 14 %. Although the recent launch of a container system for large-scale collection of secondary raw materials has led to a gradual decrease in the quantity of mixed household waste and an increase in the separately-collected share, the coverage of this system in Lithuania is not yet satisfactory. In 2006, only 40 % of the country had the secondary waste collection system in place.
At present, Lithuania has 10 regional waste management systems in operation. Projects involving regional waste management systems benefited from EU Cohesion Fund allocations during the period 2000–2006. By the end of 2008, around 470 old landfill sites which did not meet environmental and public health requirements had been closed down. Another 88 landfill sites are to be closed by the end of 2010. The old landfill sites have been replaced by 11 modern, regional landfill sites. Lithuania has built 13 green waste composting facilities, 57 bulk waste acceptance facilities and 347 container sites for secondary raw materials. A further 11 facilities for bulk waste will be opened by the end of 2010.
Using EU structural support funds for the period 2007–2013, a further 385 old landfill sites and dumps are scheduled to be closed and another 49 facilities for bulk waste and 40 green waste composting sites are to be built.
The key drivers and pressures
In 2007, manufacturing waste in Lithuania increased by 2.4 % compared to 2006 and gross domestic product (GDP) grew by about 19 %. Between 2004 and 2007, GDP growth exceeded that of manufacturing waste (Fig. 4), a trend which is in line with the long-term objectives of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development.
Fig. 4 Quantity of manufacturing waste collected per unit of GDP, 2000–2007 Source: Environment Protection Agency.
The 2020 outlook
- Updated National Sustainable Development Strategy 2009
- National Strategic Waste Management Plan
- Republic of Lithuania Waste Management Act
- Programme for the management of pesticide waste storage sites and pesticide-polluted territories, 2007–2013
- Lithuania's Environment, State, Processes and Development 2008
The long-term objectives for waste management set out in the National Strategy for Sustainable Development are: to develop an environmentally and economically efficient non-hazardous and hazardous waste management system; to minimise waste flows and their negative impact and to ensure rational use of waste for secondary recycling and energy purposes. These objectives can be achieved in a variety of sectors by installing advanced technologies and cleaner manufacturing and pollution prevention methods to ensure resource efficiency and prevent waste generation. Other measures include increasing the recycling of secondary raw materials; promoting the manufacture and use of environmentally-friendly products in cooperation with the public; introducing environmental labelling of products; encouraging more initial sorting of municipal waste; applying modern methods of biodegradable waste management and installing state-of-the-art radioactive waste repositories.
The preparation of a forecast for waste generation from 2007 to 2020 took into account three waste generation scenarios, based on the annual growth rate of waste quantities. These are the low (1 %), medium (2.6 %) and high (5 %) growth scenarios. The medium growth scenario defines the annual medium growth rate of mixed municipal waste in 2004–2006. As mixed municipal waste accounts for approximately 79 % of all municipal waste, it is estimated that the quantity of municipal waste generated in 2020 will be either 473 kg, 591 kg or 813 kg per capita, depending on the growth scenario (Fig. 5).
Fig. 5. Generation of mixed municipal waste per capita, according to the three waste generation scenarios in 2007−2020
Existing and planned responses
The reduction of waste generated and its rational management and reuse in Lithuania are environmental priorities, the importance of which is highlighted in the National Strategy for Sustainable Development. The main provisions of the EU Framework Directive on Waste 75/442/EEC and Directive 91/689/EEC on hazardous waste have been transposed into Lithuanian law. The Republic of Lithuania’s Waste Management Act stipulates the general requirements and priorities for waste management: prevention and reduction of waste quantities and hazard level, recycling, energy recovery, safe disposal and the principles of organisation and planning of waste management systems.
Lithuania has adopted a ‘National Strategic Waste Management Plan’ which regulates a waste management system fulfilling EU requirements. This will enable European Union waste management directives to be implemented over the next decade.
In addition to the external EU funding sources, the costs of collecting secondary raw materials from the municipal waste flow, sorting and preparing it for recycling will be covered by two main sources: the general tariff (or a local charge) for municipal waste management services and funds from the product and packaging waste management programme. Sorting lines will also be installed at large regional landfill sites in the future.
With a view to increasing the efficiency of municipal waste management systems, Lithuania is developing regional municipal waste management systems. The first stage of this process includes the development of waste collection, sorting and utilisation systems; the closure and rehabilitation of old landfill sites; the construction of new and modern waste disposal facilities and the installation of green waste composting and bulk waste acceptance sites. In 2006, Lithuania had 800–850 household waste landfill sites that did not meet environmental and public health requirements and 300 of these landfill sites are still in operation. All of them will have to be closed down to prevent any risk to the environment and human health. The disposal of waste at landfill sites that do not comply with EU requirements has been banned since mid-2009, and Lithuania is obliged to close the remaining sites by the end of 2011. During the second stage, which began in 2007, investments will mainly be channelled into the development of municipal biodegradable waste management infrastructure. The EU structural support funds for 2007–2013 and the introduction of manufacturers’ and importers’ responsibility for waste management will also contribute to the development of the biodegradable waste management infrastructure.
To optimise hazardous waste management, an up-to-date hazardous waste management system is being developed: four regional sites have been set up for the management of hazardous waste and these are operated by a government-controlled hazardous waste management undertaking. Lithuania plans to set up a hazardous waste incineration installation by 2010 and a hazardous waste landfill site by the end of 2011.
In order to implement Lithuania’s programme for the management of pesticide waste storage sites and pesticide-polluted territories (2007–2013), preparations are underway to develop a management plan for former pesticide storage sites, of which Lithuania has over 1 000.