How much waste do we generate and how do we stand in terms of sorting and recovery?

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Friends, close your eyes and imagine 627,000 giraffes together. Or 627,000 Chevrolet Chevette cars in the same parking. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? This is the equivalent of the average amount of waste generated by the Republic of Moldova during a calendar year, according to the Environment Agency and data submitted by businesses through SIA MD (Automated Information System “Waste Management”), in 2019 were generated 627, 2 thousand tons of waste, of which 534.4 tons of hazardous waste. It is important to mention that most of the waste generated is municipal waste – 528.2 thousand tons, followed by packaging waste – 39.4 thousand tons, waste from wastewater treatment plants – 25.2 thousand tons, waste from the agro-industrial sector – 16.9 thousand tons and other waste with smaller quantities resulting from other activities.

At the same time, approximately 84% of the total waste generated in the Republic of Moldova in 2019 is “municipal waste” – household waste generated mainly by households followed by industrial enterprises,  public and social institutions, such as schools, kindergartens and hospitals. It consists of household waste and assimilable waste, which is collected separately, and mixed municipal waste, so that of the municipal waste generated, 91.4% is mixed municipal waste and only 7.2% of municipal waste is stored separately. In most cases, separately collected waste is part of the packaging waste. According to the reported data, 39.4 thousand tons of packaging waste were generated in 2019. Of these, 50.1% belong to glass packaging, 27.4% – to packaging from plastic followed by paper and cardboard packaging – 20.4%, the others being waste from other types of packaging – 2.1%.

Now the natural question arises: how is the Republic of Moldova doing in terms of sorting? In general, the situation is alarming in the villages and districts of the Republic of Moldova, where waste management is practically lacking. Moldovans still take the garbage to the ravine or to the unauthorized garbage dump on the outskirts of the town.  Even if in some cities there are dumpsters specially designed for separate garbage collection (paper, plastic, glass), many residents choose to throw recyclable waste along with household waste, which eventually reach the landfill in Țânțăreni. The lack of sorting bins near the apartment building, the non-selective transportation of garbage by the authorities and the convenience of throwing garbage through the garbage chute are the reasons cited by citizens. More recently, the country was shaken by the news of the company “ABS Recycling”, the only waste sorting station in Chisinau, which announced that it would cease its activity on January 25th. This announcement can be classified as catastrophic, because over a third of all waste produced in Moldova belongs to Chisinau. At this enterprise, the contents of 2,000 containers for the separate collection of waste, which are installed in the capital, were manually sorted. The employees here were separating 12 types of plastic, paper, glass and metal. According to the company’s data, due to this activity, the waste landfill from Țânțăreni reached 15-40 percent less waste.

If we refer to the recovery of waste, this stage includes the transformation of waste into products, materials or substances to fulfill their original function or for other purposes. According to the data reported by SIA MD by the economic agents, in the Republic of Moldova in 2019, 40.9 thousand tons of waste were recovered. The largest amount of recovered waste belongs to packaging and packaging waste – 29.8 thousand tons, of which about 49% are glass packaging. The presence of glass packaging companies in the country favors the good management of glass packaging and its recovery. The same is true for paper and board packaging, which is used by cellulose, paper and board companies. Waste from agriculture has often been recovered by using it as fertilizer, resulting in benefits for agriculture.

In conclusion, one thing is certain: the Republic of Moldova is far from reaching international standards in the field of waste sorting and reuse. That is why any individual or community effort to promote these concepts is more than welcome. In this context, it is good to be aware that the best way to recover waste is to prevent its production. You can start at home. Think about how to prevent waste from the moment of purchase, repair and reuse products, buy second-hand products, sell or give to others the products you do not need and, last but not least, compost! We wish you success!

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