Latvia gets $2 million loan for waste project

  • 2000-04-27
  • By Marta Kirse
RIGA - Vents Balodis, Minister of Environmental Projection and Regional Development, met with members of the World Bank in Washington to discuss financing for the Liepaja Region Solid Waste Management project. Consequently, the World Bank has allocated a $2.2 million loan for the project.

"The negotiations concerning funding have finished. It now must go to the board [World Bank Board of Directors] for approval," said Toms Baumanis, World Bank spokesman. The board meeting is set for July 16.

The government of Latvia aims to upgrade or close all existing disposal sites, many of which pose a threat to local groundwater resources. With the aid of the Danish EPA, a National Solid Waste Management Strategy has been prepared. Once the strategy is fully realized, it is estimated that Latvia will have 10 major waste disposal sites.

The Liepaja region produces approximately 10 percent of the country's annual municipal waste and accommodates 29 disposal sites. The purpose of the waste disposal project is to implement a self-sustaining modern waste management system for Latvia's western city and region of Liepaja. It also will provide a regional waste dump that meets EU requirements.

This project involves the establishment of a regional site for all biodegradable municipal waste, the introduction of equipment for facilitating waste separation at the household level and at the final disposal site, as well as training of staff, both managerial and operational, at municipal disposal sites.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $13.4 million. The city of Liepaja and its district have pledged $1.3 million and the government of Latvia $2.3 million to the project. The remaining sum will be covered by contributions from the World Bank, the Nordic Investment Bank and the Swedish International Development Agency.

"The project is receiving funding from the Prototype Carbon Fund, the only ones to do so in Central and Eastern Europe," said Baumanis.

Under the directive of the World Bank, the Prototype Carbon Fund is designed to stimulate international emissions reduction projects. It's objective is to finance projects to reduce high quality greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries and economies in transition. PCF uses contributions made by companies (Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Mitsubishi, France's Gaz de France, Germany's Deutsche Bank and Norway's Statoil) and governments (Canada, Finland, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden) to aid projects. With PCF's contribution to the Liepaja Solid Waste Management project, a state-of-the-art system with maximum collection of generated methane will be installed.

According to the law set by the Cabinet of Ministers, each municipality is responsible for creating a waste management system in their recognized local territory. However, many of the local officials have no experience and knowledge on the methods of such a task. The Latvian Waste Management Association offers a solution, a waste management seminar for municipalities.

"Every week, we drive to the different regions of Latvia and tell and show how such a system can be implemented," said Ruta Bendere, director of the Latvian Waste Management Association.

The three-day seminar is open to anyone wishing to learn about the social, economic and legal aspects of waste management, as well as how to go about initiating the system. The topics covered include the broad issues of waste management solutions and legislation, and influence of waste on local environment to the specifics of gathering and transporting, the separation collection process and organic waste burning. Lectures are given by specialists of the association and of Latvia's Technical University.

"The system must be introduced step by step. The first step is composting. The biodegradable waste is the worst of the municipal waste. It creates leaching emission gases," said Bendere. "The next step will be to sort out what can be treated in Latvia."

This includes industrial, dangerous and special waste such as batteries and mercury lamps. Currently, Liepaja has a facility to dispose of the mercury lamps properly, but is dependent on companies and people's incentive to separate it from the rest of the trash.