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Major Changes Coming to Waste Management in Poland from 2025: Deposit System, Construction & Textile Recycling

ECOLOGYMajor Changes Coming to Waste Management in Poland from 2025: Deposit System, Construction & Textile Recycling

Starting from 2025, consumers, but also local governments and entrepreneurs, will face significant changes concerning selective collection and recycling of various waste groups, including the introduction of a deposit system. End customers will have to significantly alter their habits. “The deposit system is a completely new solution and the consumer will have to get used to the idea that they will have to return to the store and hand in the can after having a drink to get back the deposit they paid earlier,” says Łukasz Łyżwa, the president of SRS Group. He indicates that local governments and entrepreneurs will have to exert somewhat greater efforts, including financial and organizational ones, but delaying the implementation of new regulations no longer makes sense. “We know this is the right direction and there is no need to prolong this any further,” the expert assesses.

“We have already been carrying out selective collection of packaging for some time, we segregate cans and plastic at home, but it’s not enough. This selective collection does not give us the level of waste collection that we would expect. It is also not comfortable enough for the customer and consumer. That’s why next year will bring a number of changes,” says Łukasz Łyżwa to the Newseria Biznes agency.

The first of these will be the implementation in Poland of a deposit system, which is to start operating from January 1, 2025. It will cover single-use plastic bottles up to 3 liters, reusable glass bottles up to 1.5 liters, and metal cans up to 1 liter. Large stores, with an area of over 200 square meters, will have to take back such empty packaging and refund the previously taken deposit, while other retail outlets, with a smaller size, will be able to opt into the system voluntarily. The amount of the deposit will be specified in the regulation and to get it back, showing a receipt will not be necessary (the unreclaimed deposit will be used to finance the deposit system).

As indicated by the Ministry of Climate and Environment, at the moment a significant portion of packaging waste, which is to be covered by the deposit system, is collected together with other municipal waste by municipalities. The new solution is expected to increase the level of selective collection and recycling of raw materials, which will also result in lower environmental pollution. In addition, it adjusts Polish law to the requirements and solutions in force in the European Union, including the EU directive on reducing the impact of certain plastic products on the environment.

“In addition, there are also changes that will start to apply to the construction and textile industry next year. These are two large industries that will be covered by new regulations regarding selective collection,” says the president of the SRS Group, which designs and implements solutions for the circular economy.

From January 1, 2025, developers and renovation companies will have to segregate waste produced during investments. Such waste will be collected with division into six fractions: wood, metals, glass, plastics, gypsum, mineral waste, and ceramic materials as well as stones. Investors will be able to carry out selective collection of such construction and renovation waste independently or entrust it to a professional external company and cover the costs. On the other hand, private individuals, conducting renovations on their own, will be able – as before – to order a container for construction waste at their own expense in municipalities (putting them into a regular container will be subject to a fine).

In accordance with the requirements of the EU Directive 2018/81, new regulations concerning the collection and recycling of used textiles, mainly unnecessary clothing, are set to begin in Poland from the beginning of next year. This obligation will fall on municipalities, which will be required to accept used fabrics. This, in turn, will mean the need to expand the PSZOK system (Selective Municipal Waste Collection Points) or introduce other, alternative solutions.

“Cities are only just beginning to prepare intensively for the new regulations,” adds Klaudia Subutkiewicz, Director of the Department of Economy and Waste at the Bydgoszcz City Office. “Regulations regarding construction and renovation waste are already in our legislation, and facilities must start adapting to separate construction and renovation waste into fractions, separate wood from rubble, plastic or ceramics, which of course requires changes in permits and involves additional costs. On the other hand, the collection of textiles is already starting to function in PSZOKs in many cities. Sometimes collections are made directly from the source, from under houses, where containers for used clothing are placed. However, this is still at the implementation stage, and it will take some time before we fully implement it.”

According to data from the European Commission, the average EU citizen buys about 26 kg of new clothing every year and throws away about 11 kg of used and unnecessary textile products. Meanwhile, the fashion industry, one of the largest branches of the global economy, is also a major polluter of the environment: it consumes more water than the entire food industry, emits more greenhouse gases than all international flights and maritime shipping combined, consumes huge amounts of chemicals, fertilisers and pesticides, which end up in water and soil, and the global supply chain is organised in such a way that the average t-shirt travels from 15,000 to even 50,000 km before it is sold in a shop. This means that it could just as well go around the Earth.

The EU wants to reduce the impact of this industry on the environment, hence the new regulations on the collection and recycling of used textiles. However, some experts stress that Poland is not ready for them – we still lack a comprehensive ecosystem of collection and processing of used clothing that would enable it to be returned to circulation. Similar doubts also concern the new obligation of segregating construction waste – although in this case entrepreneurs should be prepared for it, as it was supposed to come into force in already in 2023, but the vacatio legis was unexpectedly extended by two years.

“In the case of textiles, we already have a selective collection system, there are containers by the roads, and many clothing companies, expecting the entry of new regulations from next year, are already selectively collecting in their stores, where the customer can give their old clothes. So a lot has been done here and I wouldn’t worry about the costs because they are spread across many entities,” Łukasz Łyżwa assesses. “The same will be in the construction industry. Here the effort will certainly be bigger, huge investments will be needed, but on the other hand, there will never be a good time. If we extend the deadline for the introduction of selective collection of construction materials, it does not mean that the money will be found or this year will change anything. We know that this is the only right direction and there is no need to prolong it any further.”

As he points out, a number of changes related to selective collection and recycling of various waste groups, which will appear in 2025, will also mean big changes for end customers. They will have to get used to new solutions and change their habits, which may take some time.

“The deposit system is a completely new solution and the consumer will have to get used to the fact that when they buy a drink, they will have to return to the store and hand in the can to get back the deposit they paid earlier,” says the president of SRS Group. “In the case of textiles, the collection system, which currently largely based on containers placed by the roads, will evolve, will gain more and more selectivity. We will strive to reach the end customer in their home as a recycler and make it easier for them to get rid of unnecessary items that are due to be thrown away so that they do not end up in bins. But I think regulations on construction waste will not directly affect the consumer because they will probably choose to hire a construction company and it will have to secure – during demolition, construction or any renovation – a specific number of containers for each fraction, like glass or plastics. So it will be a bit more effort, perhaps also a cost, but with extended producer responsibility, this cost should be on their side.”

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