Saturday, 31 August 2013

Poland post the Rubbish Revolution

The implementation of Poland's new law on municipal waste has gone far more smoothly than any commentator (including myself) could have hoped for. Well, at least in this corner of Warsaw. It's been a month and half now, and - other than the price hike - I cannot grumble.

As it turns out, the same company that used to collect our rubbish (Eko Standard) is continuing to do so after winning the tender to service Jeziorki and western Ursynów. At the same time, Ekon*, a association that provides work for disabled and disadvantaged people, is backing up Eko Standard by collecting clean recyclables. And across in Ursynów on ul. Cynamonowa, the recycling point (Wtórmax) still pays cash for paper, cardboard, steel tins, aluminium cans - and now - PET bottles.

So waste collection now looks like this. Non-compostable dirty waste gets collected every Wednesday by Eko Standard (acting now on behalf of the district of Ursynów); clean glass (green bag), and other low-grade recyclables (red bag) are collected by Ekon on Mondays, and every few weeks or so I drive to Cynamonowa to sell the higher-value recyclables. Today, I got 17.70zł for a small car-load of paper, cardboard and metal.

I asked the people at Wtórmax whether the introduction of the new system of collecting municipal waste has impacted on the fragile dynamic of the recycling market. "Not in the least", was the surprising reply. Pan Heniek and Pan Ziutek still come over with hand-carts full of rusting iron-work of dubious provenance or sacks of crushed beer cans, while to my great surprise Wtórmax has started paying 15 grosze per kilo of PET bottles (the kind used for mineral water and soft drinks). Why surprise? I'd heard from a reputable source in the waste industry than across Germany Remondis is sitting on warehouses stacked up to the roof with PET bottles. So if there's an oversupply of this material, why have Polish recyclers started offering money for it?

For the record: today's prices at Wtórmax: PET bottles: 15gr/kg; Cardboard: 15gr/kg; newspapers and magazines: 20gr/kg; steel tins: 65gr/kg; aluminium cans: 3zł/kg.

Back to the government's Rubbish Revolution - I'm now paying 60zł a month to have our rubbish collected; in the old days, I was paying 38zł a month. Take away the revenue from selling the high-value recyclables (say 8zł/month) and the result is 52zł up from 30zł, which is an increase of 73%. The reason is that it's now statutorily collected weekly rather than fortnightly - whether we need it or not.

Extrapolated across the entire Polish economy, the July hike in municipal waste collection prices has fed into our inflation figures. If June's inflation rate was 0.2%, July's has leapt to 1.1%. And most of that rise in inflation, according to Poland's central statistical office GUS, was due to the implementation of the new rubbish law.

If the new law results in there being less rubbish dumped in Poland's forests, byways and hedges - it will be a price worth paying. If the brudas community still believes that it is socially acceptable to dump bags of household waste along ul. Dumki, then stronger measures will be needed. I'm all in favour of installing stocks in front of Ursynów's town hall and pelting miscreants who dispose of their rubbish in antisocial ways with rotten eggs and tomatoes. Like whoever left a fridge on ul. Kórnicka, or half a ton of building waste on ul. Holubcowa. And let me, who is without environmental sin, cast the first tomato.

The purpose of the new law was to tidy up Poland's towns and cities by placing responsibility on the municipal authorities to ensure household waste is properly disposed of. Prior to 19 July 2013, responsibility fell on the individual householder. The down-side of the old system was that half-a-dozen or so different waste-collection companies could serve a single street.

*It was a school visit that Moni made to Ekon many years ago when she was in gimnazjum that persuaded her to persuade me to start segregating rubbish with an eye to recycling as much of it as possible. Ekon does sterling work for society and for the environment. Had it not been for Ekon's involvement in waste collection in Ursynów, householders would be paying 89zł a month (as originally planned) rather than the actual 60zł.

This time last year:
Poland's most beautiful street

This time two years ago:
Getting to grips with phrasal verbs

This time four years ago:
What Putin wrote about Molotov-Ribbentrop

This time five years ago:
Summer Sunday in the city

This time six years ago:
Last bike-ride to work of the summer


student SGH said...

On the other side of Warsaw's boundary, in Gmina Lesznowola apart from organisational slip-ups I see only upsides: price per single-family household fell from 50 PLN before new law was in force to 42 PLN and this year, as soon as new council resolution is published, will drop to 32 PLN, while collection frequency has increased. (still talking about segregated rubbish).

BTW: how was it solved in your office. In mine, rubbish bin were taken away from under the desks during the last weekend of June and new "colourful" (for sorting) bins have been up on each floor. The outcome is that most workers have their own makeshift bins and dispose of their rubbish to one huge bin for everything sitting in the kitchen...

Bob said...

Hi Michael,

I have been noticing actually more dumping in the forest. Hard to say why - perhaps people are either continuing their piggish ways or - maybe they are not aware that they can legally have literally all of their trash picked up through the new process.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ student SGH
I don't know how the system functions in our office - there's a double bin in the kitchen, but how the rubbish gets sorted - don't know :(

@ Bob
I guess it varies from gmeena to gmeena :) Just returned from a bike ride along ul. Hołubcowa and ul. Dumki - notorious place for dumping - now new litter. Rubbish I showed on last post from Hołubcowa has gone...