Current state of Waste Management in Kosovo 2021

Established in 1990, Kosovo [1] is one of the newest countries in the world located in South-East Europe, part of Western Balkans, with a surface coverage area of 10,907 km2, a population of 1, 883, 018 [2] and a population density of 166 inhabitants/km2.

by Fjollë Kabashi, WtERT Germany

Figure 1: Waste collection point in Dardania Neighborhood, Prishtine (self-captured).

During the year 2019, a registered amount of approximately 449,882 tons of municipal waste were disposed altogether in the seven sanitary landfills, four non-sanitary landfills and several inert waste disposing sites in the sanitary and non-sanitary landfills. This puts not only the human health but also the surrounding environment [3] at a great risk. Furthermore, as per the data from State of the Environment Report [4], the waste sector contributes to roughly 4% to the country’s emissions equivalent to 380 tons CO2.

The official data on waste generation in the country or per capita are lacking, therefore only an estimation of the few studies is present. Based on a report from Kosovo Environmental Protection Agency (KEPA)[5] for collected waste, an average municipal waste generation by inhabitant was calculated to be 0.73 kg/day, which makes a total of approximately 474,153.37 tons/year (considering the number of registered populations of 1,779,521 from year 2011 and including the assessment of the population in North Mitrovica, Leposaviq, Zubin Potok, Zveçan).

As mentioned above, landfilling remains the common waste disposal method despite it being the last stage as per waste management hierarchy. Today, municipal waste in Kosovo is mostly disposed of at the seven official and operational landfills, of which five landfills serve different regions: Prishtinë (Mirash, Mitrovicë (Gërmova), Pejë (Sferkë), Prizren (Landovicë), and Gjilan (Velekincë). While the remaining two landfills, serve municipalities Podujevë and Dragash. The four existing landfills categorized as non-sanitary are: Istog, Zubin Potok, Leposaviq and Zveqan landfills [6].

The present state of waste management system in Kosovo cannot be considered sustainable. This is drawn from lack of municipal waste separation at source, collection, transport and disposal. Only few municipalities have piloted waste separation at source, where the informal sector is still engaged in collection of recyclables in a high percentage. Collected waste is transferred and then disposed in landfills. The same is presented in another study [7] , according to which in addition to the points mentioned above, no sufficient treatment or reuse of waste exists, and lack of cooperation between the institutions lead to a struggle to effectively deliver basic services in urbans and rural areas. This concludes that the recycling and waste treatment and reuse projects are needed to strengthen the waste management system.

The lack of professional operational knowledge and practices (e.g. absence of operating plan), as well as the lack of necessary equipment and infrastructure (e.g. absence of leachate and biogas treatment, environmental monitoring, etc.), have led to the deterioration of the technical conditions of the landfills. Especially, inadequate leachate treatment risks ground and surface water pollution.

As of now (September 2021), the number of companies engaged in collecting recyclables is growing however is limited, while the informal waste sector is present and taking a very high percentage. Currently, plastic and paper waste is recycled and some companies such as Izolimi Plast Recycling plant and Kosovo Recycling Glass are also producing new products from the recycled plastics such as PE foil for leveling. Furthermore, recycled paper is finding ways of being used for paper packaging and toilet paper. The recycling of glass is oriented in mosaic glass tiles in limited quantity.

It should be stated that illegal dumping is a big problem in Kosovo, which affects all municipalities. Based on the conducted data from the report prepared by KEPA and GIZ [8], there are identified around 1,572 illegal dumpsites in 38 municipalities. Even though the assessment carried on according to size and type of waste, a clear outline on the evaluation of illegal dumpsites identified was not found, as they are mainly all over municipal areas, in urban and rural areas.

Several municipalities have dedicated the use of a public plot for inert waste disposing. However, they are not constructed based on standards. One example is the municipal inert waste landfill in Prizren (Zhur).

Furthermore, in Kosovo there is no national waste sorting or treatment plant. A feasibility study exists at the Veterinary Agency of Kosovo for an incinerator for animal waste, part of Twinning Project. However, the status of the project is unknown.

At the local level, some projects are drafted and ready to be implemented, such as C&D waste treatment plant within Mitrovicë regional landfill, the transformation of Gllogoc into a civic amenity center for bulky waste and the construction of a CAC and C&D waste landfill for Prishtinë municipality etc. Additionally, Prishtinë municipality is developing the project for an organic waste treatment plant within the Germia Park that in the future may also treat organics waste from green markets.

In conclusion, it can be said that there is an urgent need to strengthen the waste management in Kosovo, investments should be in areas which are problematic in infrastructure, reduce the amount of waste, as well as separation of waste at source for further reuse and treatment. Considering the low awareness about waste management and associated pollution and health risks, more information and more projects of this nature should be implemented.



[1]This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence

[2] Year 2018 [EEA 2018]

[3]KEPA 2020

[4]KEPA 2015

[5] KEPA 2020

[6] TU Berlin 2017

[7] EEA 2018

[8] MSW in Kosovo 2018


The text is prepared by Fjollë Kabashi, WtERT Germany, September 2021


Read more:

KEPA,2020: Raporti mbi menaxhim

published: , 9|2021
Keywords: Landfilling, Close dumps, Kosovo