2024-04-17 10:00 Share:  Facebook Instagram

Spring cleaning: How to prevent waste from landing in orphan sites?

Spring cleaning: How to prevent waste from landing in orphan sites?

As information about illegal landfills set up by small criminal groups continues to appear in the public domain, Žalvaris, one of the country’s largest industrial waste management companies, warns: It is critical to make sure that the entity from which the waste management service is being ordered is registered and has a permit to carry out waste management activities. Otherwise, waste management will cost twice: A resident will pay directly for the illegal and, therefore, inadequate service, and then we will all pay for it through taxation when the municipality organises the clean-up of the contaminated orphan sites.

“April is not only the spring cleaning month but also when illegal waste collectors flourish. As people start actively cleaning up their environment after the winter, numerous ads on the internet promise to collect and dispatch waste “cheaper” than others. These waste collectors are probably not waste management companies but simply illegal entities looking to make a quick buck and avoid responsibility for their actions. Their scheme is straightforward: After collecting waste from residents, they secretly dump it in remote places – wherever convenient. In this case, a person pays twice for waste management: first, out-of-pocket, to the illegal waste collector, and then, through common taxation, for the clean-up of the orphan sites, which is organised by the municipality,” says Paulius Repšys, the Development Director of Žalvaris.

According to the company’s representative, minor car repair shops are another active category of polluters. While repairing vehicles, these shops accumulate automotive waste in their garages or the surrounding area and then dispose of it in the environment without paying for the delivery and management of waste.

The polluted orphan sites can range from a small patch of waste on the side of the road to an illegal waste dump of 2 hectares or more in a remote and less densely populated area. When such sites are found, they are notified to the municipalities, which organise public tenders to clean up the polluted areas and hire waste management companies authorised to handle the waste, as provided in the Law on Waste Management.

“In the last two years alone, we have cleared almost 850 tonnes of waste from orphan sites, for EUR 150,000, paid by all residents of the different municipalities through their taxes. In Lithuania, orphan sites are handled by many waste management companies registered in the State Register of Waste Management Companies; therefore, in terms of volumes, the management of waste from orphan sites would generate a significant amount of money that Lithuanian municipalities could spend on improving the quality of life of their residents and their social or infrastructure needs”, says Mr Repšys.

The most common types of waste dumped in orphan sites are tyres, plastic vehicle parts, construction and home repair waste, bulky waste, and hazardous waste such as slate, daylight lamps, etc.

In 2022 and 2023, Žalvaris collected and managed orphan sites in ten municipalities. During this period, the most significant amounts of waste were collected from orphan sites in Ignalina District (113 tonnes of tyres), in Klaipėda District (43 tonnes of tyres), in Švenčionys District (113 tonnes of bulky waste), in Jurbarkas Municipality (8 tonnes of automotive plastics), and the territories supervised by the State Forest Enterprise (6 tonnes of slate).

How to prevent waste from landing in orphan sites?

The representative of Žalvaris advises on what to look out for when you want to legally dispose of your waste so that it does not become an orphan site we all have to deal with in the future:

  • Deliver the waste to the municipal bulky waste collection site. Residents have to pay a waste delivery and management fee for some waste, while some waste collection is free. For example, residents can deliver a set of used tyres to the waste collection site for free once a year.
  • If you cannot bring your waste to the collection site, contact a reputable waste management company and book their professional services.
  • When choosing the right service provider, it is crucial first to check their information: is it a legal entity registered in the State Register of Waste Management Companies (www.atvr.aplinka.lt); do they publish their waste management activities on the company’s website, etc.?
  • When you order and pay for the waste collection and management service, you must request a receipt or invoice. It also helps to verify the legality of the service provider’s activities.
  • When looking for a waste collection service through an ads portal, critically evaluating the service provider's price is necessary. If the advertised price for waste management is significantly lower than that offered by known waste managers, it may indicate that the entity providing the waste collection service through the ads portal is not a legal waste management company.