Albanian Parliament approves controversial waste import bill

After several protests from civil society activists and several MPs mainly from opposing Democratic aparty, the governing left coalition of Albanian PM Edi Rama has marginally approved a bill which allows Albania to import waste from other countries and use it as first matter for industrial purposes.

From 140 MPs, only 63 voted in favor and 27 against, with the opposition boycoting the vote.

Several Socialist Party MPs including Eduart Shalsi and Taulant Balla were strongly advocating for the bill to be passed in Parliament, arguing that an industry allegedly employing 30,000 people will benefit from imported paper, aluminium and plastic granules which will then be used as first matter in turn.

Environmental activists and organisations in Albania were opposed to the law, pointing out to the dangers such legislation brings to the health of Albanian families once the country turns into a trash bin for foreign garbage.

Besjan Pesha of Civil movement ‘Thurje’ says that those MPs advocating for the bill are serving commercial groups and this suggests that malicious interests are being served by a Government whose leaders only 3 years ago banned such imports.

Environment Minister Lefter Koka says that the law does not allow for garbage to be imported but only first matter materials to be used by Albanian producers while several Socialist MPs voting against their party line such as Ben Blushi and Alfred Peza point to the lack of monitoring capacities in a country where the gap between laws and their implementation has turned into a chronic problem.

Friday morning after the vote, several garbage bins across Tirana were marked by graffitti names of Prime Minister Edi Rama and other prominent politicians of Albania.

The graffiti follows rebel socialist MP Ben Blushi who during his speech in Parliament called this bill ‘the end of moral for a polluted group of malicious people’ while calling on people to take to the streets and write the names of those who vote in favor on every garbage bin they find.

Every bill should be signed off by the President of the Republic before it becomes law. If the vote is not ratified by the President, it goes back to Parliament for another round of voting. Environmentalists hope that once the President turns it down, they may get another chance to mount popular pressure against the Government and block a second vote in Parliament


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