Estonia imports rubbish to keep power plant running

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

image copyrightWikimedia/Hannu
image captionThe waste-for-energy plant is just one part of the Iru power station complex in Estonia

Estonia has become an importer of other countries' rubbish in order to keep one of its power plants running.

Last year, the country brought in some 56,000 tonnes of refuse for its waste-to-energy power plant at Iru as the country isn't producing enough rubbish of its own to keep the boilers heated around the clock, the Eesti Paevaleht newspaper reports.

Businesses and households in Estonia produced around 395,000 tonnes of refuse last year, with more than half of that figure either going to landfill sites or for recycling, Estonian public broadcaster ERR says. However, the Iru plant burned 245,000 tonnes of waste in the same period, meaning its operators Eesti Energia had to source fuel elsewhere.

That fuel - waste from other countries - came primarily from Finland, but also from territories as far afield as Ireland, ERR says. Eesti Energia board member Raine Pajo said that imported rubbish represents good value for Estonia: "Let's be honest, the handling of foreign garbage pays better," he says.

But there's no carte blanche for Eesti Energia to import as much rubbish as it wants, Katrin Kaare of the Estonian Environment Agency told ERR. The Estonian government has made it clear that local refuse must be dealt with first before import licences can be granted, she said.

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