The History of the Waste Import Law – Exit Explains

Today is not the first time that a law allowing for the import and processing of waste is discussed in parliament. A similar law proposed by the former Berisha government was approved in 2011 and subsequently abolished in 2013 by incoming Prime Minister Edi Rama as the first official act of his new government.

Formally, the current project law, that once again is under consideration after President Bujar Nishani returned it to Parliament, has been proposed by Socialist Party (PS) deputies Eduart Shalsi, Ervin Bushati, and Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) Deputy Bujar Derveni.

Main differences

It differs on two main points from the abolished law from 2011:

  • The import and recycling authorization for companies is valid for two years instead of one;
  • The authorization requests are assessed by the Ministry of Environment, and no longer by the Council of Ministers.

A historical summary

Below a short summary of the political history of the waste import and management issue, from 2004 until today:

  • In 2004, PS Prime Minister Fatos Nano signed an agreement between Albania and Italy for the import and recycling of waste. When the draft of the agreement became public, it caused opposition from citizens, environmental organizations, and the opposition. They accused Prime Minister Nano that the agreement had been made so as to favor an Italian businessman that wanted to build a plant processing Italian waste in Albania. As a result, the agreement was never ratified in Parliament and remained invalid.
  • In 2009, the PD-LSI government of Sali Berisha initiated the drafting process of a project law for the import and recycling of waste. The PS and civil society opposed and protested against its approval in Parliament. Then opposition leader Edi Rama accused Sali Berisha that mafia and clientelistic relations of Berisha and his government were behind the law.
  • In spite of the opposition, the law on waste management was approved with 76 out of 140 votes in September 2011.
  • Two months after the parliamentary approval, President Bamir Topi sent the law back to parliament for further deliberation, but the majority overthrew his decree with 71 votes.
  • In 2012, a collective of citizens and civil society organizations known as the Alliance against the Import of Waste (AKIP) collected 64 thousand signatures to hold a referendum about the law.
  • In March 2012 AKIP handed in the signatures at the Central Elections Council (KQZ). In March 2013, the Constitutional Court issued a verdict approving the referendum, to be held after the general elections of 2013.
  • Stopping waste imports and recycling turned into one of the main election promises of PS leader Edi Rama during the election campaign of 2013.
  • Once he came to power, the first decision taking by Rama’s Council of Ministers with the approval of a project law that would abolish the waste management law of 2011. This decision was welcomed by all environmental organizations that had opposed the 2011 law.
  • In March 2016, Minister of Economic Development Milva Ekonomi declared that the government is preparing a concession for waste import and recycling. No further information was given.
  • In July 2016, three majority deputies, Eduart Shalsi, Ervin Bushati, and Bujar Derveni proposed in Parliament a project law for the import of waste. According to them, the new project law secured that no dangerous waste would enter Albania and that the country has made significant progress in terms of infrastructure and the training of human resources.
  • A few days later, LSI proposed that civil society should monitor the clearance of waste, to be sure that the they won’t be dangerous.
  • On September 22, Parliament approved the law with 63 votes in favor, 27 against, and 4 abstentions.
  • On October 14, President Bujar Nishani decreed that the project law be sent back to Parliament for further deliberation.

Today Parliament is expected to discuss President Nishani’s decree in the plenary session. AKIP has announced protests in front of Parliament.