Why should we care about this issue
Waste is created at every stage of human activity, and the waste quantity and composition is largely determined by the lifestyle of the society and the economy generating it. Over the long term, waste management in Poland has faced problems which need to be consistently resolved.
Disposal of large quantities of biodegradable municipal waste into landfills, along with other biodegradable waste, results in the landfill becoming a major source of emissions of methane, one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases.
Failure to use waste of plant and animal origin as renewable energy sources, particularly as substitutes for fossil fuels, will slow down Poland’s progress towards achieving its renewable energy targets.
Despite growing environmental awareness in general public, old views still predominate in some areas (e.g. with regard to the serious threat to the environment and to human health of thermal waste management methods), which makes it difficult to place new investments.
The state and impacts
In 2008, a total of 124 974 000 Mg of waste was generated in Poland, and 12 194 000 Mg of municipal waste was collected. A total of 320 kg of municipal waste was generated per person in 2008. The main method of municipal waste management in Poland is still landfill, which accounted for 8 693 200 Mg in 2008, although the percentage of waste going to landfill is gradually declining. 62 700 Mg of municipal waste was subject to thermal processing, and 292 400 Mg to biological processing. 682 000 Mg of municipal waste was collected separately.
Other waste (excluding municipal waste) generated in Poland in 2008, 20 289 700 Mg was deposited on landfills, 335 400 Mg was thermally treated, 225 900 Mg was composted, 86 124 800 Mg was recovered and 3 922 600 Mg was put into temporary storage.
In 2008, 42 211 319 batteries were recovered, and 2 696 780 were recycled. More than 2 million nickel-cadmium batteries (2 066 050) were recovered and 2 061 265 were recycled. 151 600 Mg of tyres were recovered and 42 400 Mg were recycled. 85 900 Mg of oil was recovered and 65 000 Mg was recycled.
The key drivers and pressures
The main driver determining the amount of waste generated is economic development, which affects the intensity of production, the level of individual consumption and the models of consumption. An analysis of the dynamics of changes in the quantities of waste generated in terms of GDP shows the positive fact that against the background of a constant growth in GDP, the amount of industrial waste has remained at approximately the same level over the past ten years. This can be interpreted as the result of actions taken to rationalise waste management in Poland.
The private consumption index in 1998-2008 increased by 58 %, but the quantity of municipal waste collected from 2000 to 2005 showed a downward trend. One reason for this could be restrictions on generating waste, as well as the improper disposal of waste and a flawed system of reporting the amounts of municipal waste collected from households. Over the past three years, a growth of municipal waste has been observed, but its rate has been far below the rate of growth of consumption.
The quantity of municipal waste is also subject to social factors, particularly changes in lifestyle. The number of households is increasing, while the number of persons per household is decreasing (from 3.17 to 3.00 in the years 2003 - 2008). At the same time, the consumption of daily consumer goods and household appliances is increasing, resulting in an increased mass of municipal waste.
Greenhouse gas emissions generated from waste management are a source of pressure on the environment. In a report from the Ministry of Environment to the European Commission pursuant to Article 3(2) of Decision 280/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 concerning a mechanism for monitoring Community Greenhouse gas emissions and for implementing the Kyoto Protocol, greenhouse gas emissions generated by waste management will by 2030 increase by 18.25 % compared with the base year (1988 – 8 401.16 Gg eqCO2), to reach 9 934.32 Gg eqCO2. CO2 from waste incineration in the base year was 579.27 Gg, decreasing to 311.55 Gg in 2007. A slight increase to (315.01 Gg) is expected by 2030. For their part, methane emissions from solid landfill waste in the base year were 4 934.38 Gg eqCO2, rising to 6 474.52 by 2007. They are forecast to reach 7 188.64 Gg eqCO2 by 2030.
The 2020 outlook
Outlooks for the generation and disposal of individual groups of waste have been made for the purpose of long-term waste management planning and for the purpose of the National Waste Management Plan 2010. The outlooks were made for three individual years: 2010, 2014, and 2018.
It is assumed that the level of selective waste collection will rise from the current 2 % (of total waste generated) to 10 % in 2010 and 20 % in 2018, resulting in a change in the quantity and composition of non‑segregated waste. The paper, plastic, glass and metal content of this waste will decline. The quantity of other municipal waste will increase by an average of 5% over the five-year periods (1 % per year).
Fig. 6b: Outooks for the generation of selected types of waste in Poland in 2010, 2014 and 2018 (Source: MŚ, Kpgo 2010) (waste oil, medical, used tyres, waste from construction, reconstruction and demolition)
The above outlooks and targets for waste management in Poland aim to improve the waste management situation and alleviate the negative impact of waste on the environment. It is particularly important to focus on the need to reduce the amounts of biodegradable waste consigned to landfill.
Existing and planned responses
Poland’s responses to waste management requirements are subject in the first place to the National Waste Management Plan 2010, which is in conformity with National Environmental Policy. The purpose of creating a national waste management plan is to put in place a system of waste management compliant with the requirements of sustainable development, in which the principles of waste management, in particular the treatment of waste according to the waste management hierarchy, are fully applied. This involves, first of all, avoiding and minimising the quantities of waste generated, as well as limiting their hazardous component, utilising waste as materials and energy sources, and finally, neutralisation for waste that cannot be recovered in any way.
The main piece of legislation relating to waste management is the 27 April 2001 Act on Waste (Journal of Laws 2007 No. 39, item 251, with amendments). The Act lays down the rules for dealing with waste in such a way as to protect human health and life and the environment, according to the principles of sustainable development, and in particular the rules for avoiding the generation of waste, or limiting the quantity of waste generated and its negative impact on the environment, as well as the recovery or neutralisation of waste.
Act of 27 April 2001 –Environmental Protection Law (J. of L. 2008 No. 25, item 150, with later amendments)
Introduction of general environmental principles, which are also relevant for waste management, such as principle of prevention, precautionary principle, environmental fees, integrated permissions, etc.
Act of 27 April 2001 on waste (J. of L. 2007 No. 39, item 251, with later amendment
The Act on waste is the main piece
of waste legislation. It is structured in 10 chapters:
Act of 27 July 2001 on the introduction of the act on the environmental protection law, the Act on waste and the Act amending certain Acts (J. of L. 2001, No. 100, item 1085, with later amendments
Deadlines for enacting abovementioned Acts. Transitional regulations and regulations related to ecological reviews.
National Waste Management Plan 2010 http://www.mos.gov.pl/g2/big/2009_06/e97e2a07ce29b48c19f462f83a6bf1a9.pdf
Environmental Protection, Central Statistics Office 2009 http://www.stat.gov.pl/gus/srodowisko_energia_ENG_HTML.htm
WEEE, ELV, batteries and accumulators, transborder removal of waste, etc. http://www.gios.gov.pl/artykuly/podkategoria/34/odpady