Albania to hold referendum on waste imports

Albania is to hold a referendum on imports of waste, which are currently allowed under a law slammed by local environmental groups, the presidency said on Tuesday.

Albanian President Bujar Nishani adopted a decree on the referendum after an environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO) collected 50,000 signatures as required by the constitution to hold such a vote.

A law adopted in 2011 that enables imports of non-toxic waste to be either destroyed or recycled, has been repeatedly attacked by environmental NGOs.

"Albania does not have sufficient capacities to deal with its own waste and imports will turn it into Europe's biggest rubbish dump," Lavdosh Haruni, head of the alliance against waste imports NGO, which collected the signatures, told AFP.

Since the law was adopted, local firms filed requests to be allowed to import some 700,000 tons of waste, according to NGO figures.

The authorities claim that toxic waste has not been imported, but environmental groups warn that Tirana lacks strick regulations and control mechanisms to prevent such a scenario.

The referendum is due to be held on December 22.