The opening session of the recent “International Forum of Waste Management in Poland” conference was entitled “challenges for local government” and this neatly encapsulates the state of the waste industry in Poland.
Poland is currently in the midst of growing pains following the revolution in the sector in 2013 which saw responsibility for municipal waste management fundamentally overhauled. Since the changes, which are essential if Poland is to ever meet EU recycling and landfill diversion targets, it has become clear that parts of the jigsaw are still either missing or misshapen.
On the positive side, recycling rates are rising and (thanks largely to EU generosity) 6 new incinerators (total capacity of almost 1.0Mt) are under construction – currently there is just one small operational facility in Warsaw. Incineration is not the only recovery option – it has been estimated that SRF demand from the domestic cement industry is at least 1.5Mt and some additional capacity is starting to be developed to produce fuel to the required specification.
But there is still much to do. Municipal waste management systems are not fully developed and securing finance for further significant infrastructure, particularly if the PPP route is to be used, is going to be more difficult. What-ever happens, however, waste management fees for householders can only rise.
In 2012 around 6Mt of municipal waste was landfilled. But from January 2016 landfilling of waste with a CV greater than 6MJ/kg is to be banned. Whilst it is most likely that the 2016 date will be pushed back, should the ban remain in place it is almost certain this would act as a trigger for RDF exports. For a country the size of Poland any sudden rush of exports would have a material impact on wider European markets.
Author: Adrian Judge