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The Polish perspective

Membership of the communist bloc followed by a rapid and ongoing conversion to a market economy has not helped Polands environmental situation. Aspects of its centrally planned economy and Soviet-style political system were catastrophic for the countrys environment.

Waste management systems and infrastructure such as landfills and collection services were not prepared to deal with the resulting waste explosion that occurred towards the end of the 1980s and the 1990s.

Today Poland ranks among Europes largest waste-generating countries. In 1999, the country produced a total of 126 million tonnes of industrial waste and 12.3m tonnes of municipal waste.

Municipal waste accounts for 10% of the total waste generated each year in Poland. Municipal waste is about 300320kg per head and is expected to increase. Only 55% of the population is served by waste collection agencies, making proper collection and disposal difficult.

Dumpsites are the principal way of handling municipal waste and almost all of it is landfilled. Only 2.4% of municipal waste is reused or recycled.

The EU has estimated that essential investment to meet EU environmental legislation is more than E35 billion, with waste management accounting for E4bn.

The City Council of Warsaw alone estimates that the capital of Poland needs to spend more than E100m within the next three years on waste management projects to improve segregation and recycling. All of these projects and initiatives will require skills, know-how, new technology solutions, project management and training.

Best practice

Lodz is one of the largest cities in Poland, with a population of more than 800,000. The annual production of household waste amounts to 170,000 tonnes and is expected to increase to more than 190,000 tonnes in 2010.

With the support of the EU, the city has begun to develop a modern refuse management system that aims to end the transport of household waste over long distances. The project will involve:

l Implementing an effective sorting and collection system for household waste at source, particularly separating dry and organic waste

l Construction of a new sorting and transfer station at Lublinek in the suburbs of the city

l Establishing a new landfill for dry waste at Lublinek, which will have a capacity of 800,000 tonnes

l Expansion of the existing composting plant for organic waste to have a capacity of 19,000 tonnes per year u

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