NIK negatively evaluated the effectiveness of the way public administration bodies managed municipal waste. It was not properly processed in mechanical and biological plants. After being passed through the plants the waste was not suitable for recovery or recycling. As a consequence, further waste treatment was more difficult and more expensive.

The data of the Central Statistical Office (from Polish: GUS) pointed to the risk that the EU requirements would not be met by 2020. They were related to the 50 percent recycling rate and preparation for recovery of four material types of municipal waste (paper, glass, plastic, and metal) as well as the reduction in the volume of stored waste. The European Commission indicated that risk in a report as part of the early warning system.

The NIK audit was to establish if the public administration and the managing bodies of the mechanical and biological waste processing plants (MBP) operated legally.

According to NIK that was not the case. Activities taken by the public administration bodies and bodies managing MBP plants and landfills were insufficient and ineffective. The waste produced in MBP plants was not managed in line with the waste management law.

The waste transferred to MBP plants was mostly mixed municipal waste which - after being processed - was not suitable for recycling or recovery. This is what made further waste treatment much more difficult. The audit revealed that waste classification did not comply with the provisions of law. Also, some irregularities were identified in waste registers which made the waste management reports unreliable.

Irregularities in waste registers and reporting. 12 - MBP managing bodies: 6 (50%) - irregularities in running records, 3 (25%) - irregularities in annual reports submitted to the Province Marshal. Source: NIK's own analysis based on audit results

The measures taken to contain landfilling were also ineffective, although this approach was adopted in all provincial waste management plans. The NIK audit showed that a significant portion of waste after being processed in MBP plants still went to landfills. Though, in line with the waste management law, landfilling should be the last resort in the waste treatment process.

The above is confirmed by GUS data. In 2018, 12.5 million Mg municipal waste was produced, of which more than 26 percent was subject to recycling, 8 percent was subject to composting or fermentation, nearly 23 percent was transferred for thermal waste treatment with energy recovery, 1.5 percent was thermally treated without energy recovery and as much as nearly 42 percent went to landfill (the same as in 2017).

Plant managing bodies sent mixed municipal waste together with segregated waste and other waste types to the same technological line. Besides, they lacked documents confirming the transfer of raw material waste for recycling.

NIK also had some objections to the way the waste storage and landfill monitoring system was operated. As much as ⅔ of auditees failed to store image recordings, did not secure them against loss or failed to install them on the due date.

Providing information on municipal waste treated in plants. 12 - MBP managing bodies: 6 (50%) - irregularities in providing information on municipal waste. Source: NIK’s own analysis based on audit results

Moreover, information about municipal waste treated in MBP plants was not provided in compliance with the provisions of law. The auditees failed to do it at all or provided information with delay, or without the data on the waste volume.

The waste produced and treated in various processes in MBP plants was not weighed and its volume was only estimated.

In 2019 against 2016, fees for taking waste to MBP plants went up from over 58 percent to more than 87 percent.

The fees charged for 1 Mg waste totalled: in 2016 from PLN 150 to PLN 369, in 2017 from PLN 187 to PLN 429, in 2018 from PLN 249 to PLN 430, in 2019 (1st half) from PLN 281 to PLN 585.

The main reason behind the fee increase was problems with disposal or treatment of waste produced as a result of mechanical and biological processing, in particular residual waste and alternative fuel.

NIK negatively evaluated the effectiveness of the way public administration bodies managed municipal waste. That was the case because province offices lacked databases about products, packaging containers and waste management. The Minister of Environment was obliged to create the database. Also the register that represented the only functioning database module was not run properly. It did not contain all information required by the law.

Additionally, provincial environment protection inspectors did not control the holders of waste that transferred it to unauthorised bodies. They failed to do that although they knew that the waste was not treated properly. The provincial environment protection inspectors did not collect waste samples for testing and they did not make site inspections while controlling the waste processing bodies. Public administration authorities also did not have complete knowledge of fires in waste storage facilities and landfills, although 33 fires occurred in 11 out of 18 auditees in the audited period. As many as 54 fires of waste storage facilities were reported in the area covered by 6 audited Provincial Inspectorates for Environmental Protection.

The lack of knowledge about the causes and the scale of fires as well as the failure to take preventive measures paves the way for illegal waste disposal, and thus for the so-called grey zone development. Ineffective control of the waste market by public administration authorities contributes to environmental degradation and poses a threat to human life and health.

Recommendations:

to the Minister of Climate:

  • to ensure financing from the Environment Protection and Water Management Funds for investments related to recovery and recycling of waste produced as a result of the mechanical and biological waste processing;
  • to take actions, such as imposing an obligation to establish the real volume of waste produced as a result of the mechanical waste processing before being subject to further processing in an MBP plant;
  • to finish works and launch database on products and packaging containers and on waste management in line with the Waste Management Act;

to the Chief Inspector for Environmental Protection to give orders to provincial inspectors:

  • to make site inspections of the plants and collect waste samples for testing;
  • to carry out legal proceedings against the holders of waste that transfer it to unauthorised entities;

to Province Marshalls:

  • to carry out analyses of municipal waste produced in the province area, based on up-to-date studies of the share of individual material types in municipal waste;
  • to evaluate real investment needs for waste produced in MBP plants, in particular alternative fuels;
  • to adjust waste management plans to actual market needs in the province;
  • to monitor waste depositing and processing facilities in the province in view of fire threat and to take preventive measures in this area;
  • to update and complete the database on products and packaging containers and waste management on an on-going basis.

Article informations

Date of creation:
06 August 2020 16:02
Date of publication:
06 August 2020 16:02
Published by:
Marta Połczyńska
Date of last change:
07 August 2020 12:46
Last modified by:
Marta Połczyńska
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