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Formalisation of informal sector activities in collection and transboundary shipment of wastes in and to CEE (TransWaste)
Start date: Dec 31, 2008, End date: Jun 29, 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Waste which is coming from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and bulky waste is often collected by non authorised people (in most cases but not solely people of the ethnic groups of Roma or Sinti) without any legal work permit. Collected in countries with "higher developed" waste management and transported into countries with less developed waste management leads to problems in manifold fields. Besides, these informal sector activities of waste management also exist in those middle income countries with a developing waste management structure. Under pressure to comply with EU directives (for example the so called WEEE directive) modernisation of the solid waste sector is in process in the Eastern countries. Informal activities in waste collection and waste recycling are edged out and replaced without considering the affected people. Troubles resulting from differences in social & environmental standards between East and West affect also the waste management sector.This leads to problems in all three cases of sustainability. Beside financial (of waste collection authorities) and social problems (for waste pickers), environmental disadvantages must be expected. Ecological problems arise when not usable parts of waste are disposed of at inadequate places where local environmental damages occur. Especially in the case of WEEE this may cause major environmental damages. Furthermore, waste is transported to regions with lower development in waste management, so that even by formal waste disposal serious environmental impacts are the consequence. Because of these informal activities adequate waste processing cannot be guaranteed.Waste collectors (reclaimers) are already on the bottom of the society and may even lose more of their social importance in the modernisation process when their access to waste is denied as a result of modernisation or competition from formal recycling activities. This effects are risking social problems.When the modernisation process ignores collectors it risks depriving them of their common property use of the waste stream and disrupting their livelihoods.Concerning financial problems waste collection authorities lose money because of informal waste collection. On the other hand waste pickers (reclaimers) will lose money by the reorganisation of waste management in Eastern countries. Although all the described problems are well known, no research is available concerning the topic. It is not known yet where the informal sector really interferes. Furthermore, solutions are not yet known.The main issue of TRANSWASTE is to provide a Win-Win situation for all parties involved. Although waste authorities and waste pickers meet each other with mistrust, first investigations showed that common solutions should be possible. The main challenge will be to bring the affected parties together in order to take part in a participatory process. Achievements: The project focusses on the informal collection of items and the subsequent transboundary movement from Western EU countries to Eastern European countries. Within the first project phase it turned out that a considerable amount of items are collected, in the case of Austria and Hungary each year about 100,000 t in front of waste collection centres or at households. Subsequently 70,000 t are transported to Hungary where the items are sold at flea markets; more than 45 % representing re-usable products like furniture, sporting equipment or clothes. The re-use of items contributes to waste prevention as the life-time of products is extended; contributing to the new waste management hierarchy of the Waste Framework Directive. In addition an outcome was that the informal collection activities need clear formalisation ideas dealing mainly with the question how to reach legal compliance of the informal actors. With this background different formalisation ideas were jointly developed. The Austrian-Hungarian idea focussed on the implementation of a re-usable item collectors association (ISHS). Goal was to provide training to Hungarian collectors to improve legal compliance. The Retourette idea was implemented in Slovakia with the goal to motivate informal collectors to deliver complete electronic equipment and leave it for a fee in a waste collection company. Austrian project partners developed a business plan for a cross-border socio-economic enterprise with the goal to collect used goods and repair them in Hungary. This idea called Work Integration Social Enterprise (WISE) was developed with an existing enterprise in Austria (BAN). The business plan includes a description of the business idea, a market description and marketing plan, costs and financing and implementation plan. This idea was backed up by a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and is ready for being implemented. The Austrian and Polish formalisation ideas included the set-up of Re-Use corners aiming at the possibility for households to deliver re-usable items. This was highlighted by signing a MoU where re-use corners were included in the 2012 Regional Waste Management Plan of Lower Silesia, Poland. In addition one MoU was obtained in Slovakia within the Retourette idea. The project results regarding the significance of informal activities, the importance of re-use and re-use examples from Europe were presented at the final conference in Budapest (September 2012). The conference included 37 speakers and a poster session. At the conference also the finalised results of the sustainability assessment of the formalisation ideas were presented. A highlight of this conference was to include NGOs, associations and representatives of informal waste collectors, mainly from Eastern Europe. In a special moderated session the initial step was taken to establish a European Waste Pickers Association.
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  • 78.6%   2 596 479,50
  • 2007 - 2013 Central Europe
  • Project on KEEP Platform
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