Written by Sense Reporter

The Tirana River (by  Lulzim Zela)

Everyday, I see the polluted Tirana River behind my house, the rubbish burned in the fields all over Albania and the farmers suffering from land pollution in agriculture.

Lulzim Zela

[cherry_box_inner bg_color=”#fafafa”]About the author : Lulzim is an Albanian member of Future of Waste studying waste management #Waste #DumpsAreGoldMines #Albania[/cherry_box_inner]


I want to change such situation because I dont want my sisters, my family and other people to suffer from environmental pollution anymore. A pollution that is mainly due to waste.

My grandmother used to tell me how the Tirana River was in the past. It was so clean that my whole village could wash their clothes into this river, so clean that not only the people from my village but also from other villages were using this river to have a bath, swimming, fishing, etc.

I am so excited to write what I remember from Tirana River. I remember how my love for this river was turned step by step into compassion and, eventually, into anger towards the irresponsible people that are killing this beauty of nature, this beauty that the nature gave us for free. How people can be so irresponsible?

I can remember from my childhood my neighbors swimming, fishing and sunbathing. But the thing is, I never enjoyed the river… At this time, I was a child, I couldn’t swim or go fishing.

Those memories are not older than 10 years old. At this time the situation had only started to change, but the last 10 years the situation changed very quickly because the population in Tirana was growing very fast.

The river of Tirana was not able to bring fish anymore but only plastic bags, bottles and different waste. Now this river is a catastrophe, the biodiversity is completely destroyed. You can’t see the water anymore but only sludge that stinks worst than sewage.

Waste management in Albania is at a low level. Systems for the collection of urban solid waste are provided in most cities and towns, but not in rural areas. Very little recycling of waste is undertaken. Waste are mainly disposed at municipal dump sites.

The waste management infrastructure in Albania reflects the chaotic state of the sector both at a national and a local level. There is a complete lack of funding, planning and technical capacity.

Also the awareness of the people is very low, they don’t know that the waste will be disposed from them in the first place they see: a river, a street, a garden, etc.

What could be done to help Waste Pickers? (by Pierre Manchot)

Pierre Manchot[cherry_box_inner bg_color=”#fafafa”]About the author: Pierre is the French founder of Amazing Waste Project. He studied waste management in Bordeaux and Paris Diderot. He biked from France to Mongolia 18 000 km #TourDeFrance #WastePicker #Solution[/cherry_box_inner]

Sharra landfill, near Tirana, release frightening numbers. Every day, 70% of children and adults spend more than eight hours behind the trucks that unload waste. There are between 100 to 200 trucks coming per day, pouring 1,000 to 1500 tons of waste on-site. After sorting, the collectors sell plastic 25 leks per kilo, cardboard 3,5 to 5 leks/kg, aluminium for 90 leks/kilo, glass for 4 to 11 leks/kg…The average daily income per person is 500 leks per day. Speaking about living conditions, 85% of Roma who work informally in the landfill live there in shacks made of cardboard or wood, in deplorable sanitary conditions.

In the streets, the means used in the collection are often ridiculous. In cart, moped, bike, the collectors (often men and teenagers) inspect the bins several times a day. A study done by Recycl’AGE association[2], in association with Romani and Egyptian Youth Movement in Elbasan shows that the average hour of work per day of these collector is 7 hours. They collect each one 23 kilos of plastic per day, selling them for 20 leks per kilo, and so earning an average of 470 leks a day.

 Amazing Waste Projcet

In September 2015, the Amazing Waste Project was born, a recyclable waste collection project in Albania. The project aims to formalize the informal waste collection sector: organize recyclers in cooperative and establish a collection system by door to door actions. For each kilo of waste the citizen will give to the collector (who comes in their building), they will receive one voucher. They can use this voucher in supermarkets, restaurants, bars, fastfoods…

The experience is not new (Brazil, India, Maghreb …) and now there is evidence on the ground and in the books that these approaches provide ecological, economic and social benefits for all stakeholders, from municipalities to collectors, from citizens to businesses.

On the 24 of April, we will begin the Beta test phase of the project, in 4 cities: Elbasan, Vlora, Vora, Tirana.
In each city: 100 families, 2 collectors, 10 shops.

We need 15 volonteers in each city. Do you want to take part in this project ?


[1] Source : Study report on the situation of the Roma living and working at the waste collection site in Sharre by IFAW, ARSIS, FBSH, and financed by Cooperation italian allo Sviluppo
[2]  Source : Analysis about informal collectors data, Elbasan, Albania. Data collected and analyzed by Recycl’AGE Association and Roma & Egyptian Youth Movement.

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MakeSense is launching a mobilization campaign for Waste Collectors, if you want to volunteer and help social entrepreneurs, social projects, or NGOs like Amazing Waste Project get in touch with antoine@makesense.org.

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