The capital of Kosovo has several times been in the top five capitals with the most polluted air in the world.
In addition to significant problems with waste management, pollution of rivers, green spaces and forests, Kosovo continues to have problems with air pollution.
Official data show that Prishtina and Obiliq are the two settlements that usually have the most polluted air in Kosovo.
For the first time in our country, air quality monitoring started in 2009, with the establishment of an automatic monitoring system in Prishtina, while currently the national air quality measurement network has 12 fixed stations and a mobile.
The causes of air pollution are many, but polluted air translated into scientific elements contains particulate matter such as PM10, PM2.5, nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), arsenic ( As), lead (Pb) and mercury (Hg).
The biggest cause of sulfur dioxide in the air in Kosovo is considered to be the industrial sector; of nitrogen oxides are industry and transportation; of particulate matter like PM10 and PM2.5 are small burns.
Cars are also major air pollutants. Especially old cars.
In Kosovo, for example, in 2018 there were 24 thousand 202 cars of the type ‘Golf 2’, which was first put into circulation in the distant year, 1984.
This figure accounted for 10% of total vehicles registered in Kosovo.
This figure in 2019 was halved, falling to 12 thousand 952 such vehicles.
“Ecological tax should be translated into environmental investments”
Since 2012, the Law on Road and Ecological Vehicle Tax has entered into force in Kosovo.
Each vehicle registered in Kosovo, is obliged to pay an ecological tax, which according to the Law, vehicles under 3.5 tons must pay 10 euros, while those over 3.5 tons pay 30 euros.
Tractors and light agricultural vehicles are exempt from tax.
According to the Kosovo Agency of Statistics, in Kosovo during 2021 were registered 21 thousand 748 vehicles over 3.5 tons and calculating the tax of 30 euros for this type of vehicle, it falls that the state of Kosovo has collected annually an average of 652 thousand 440 euro from ecological tax for vehicles over 3.5 tons.
While, also according to KAS, during 2021 in Kosovo are registered 42 thousand 730 vehicles under 3.5 tons, calculating the tax of 10 euros, the state has collected annually an average of 427 thousand 300 euros from this category.
In total for vehicles under and over 3.5 tons, Kosovo from the ecological tax during 2021 has collected 1 million 79 thousand euros.
Environmentalist Nora Simitçiu says that the citizens of Kosovo continue to pay the ecological tax every year, according to the Law, but that the amount which is accumulated from this tax, it is still unknown where it is specifically dedicated.
She says that another paradoxical thing about this tax is that the law obliges the owners of hybrid cars to pay ecological tax.
“Instead of owners of vehicles that do not emit or emit low levels of pollutant gases being supported by state policies, they are instead forced to pay the same tax as a car which causes high pollution, which is quite discouraging. . So in addition to specifying where and how this accumulated budget is intended at the same time, this law should also be reviewed.
This tax, Simitçiu says, should start investing in environmental projects such as waste recycling; creation of wastewater treatment plants; creation of green spaces and biodiversity recovery.
“Not only the issue of catalysts but the whole process of recycling various wastes should begin to receive priority from the Government of Kosovo.”
“Our state must take into account the practices of other countries which have already solved this problem by first creating the necessary legislation which prohibits the sale of catalysts for scrap and prohibits their processing by inadequate persons”, she emphasizes.
PHOTO – KALLXO.com – Car releasing gases in Prishtina
Why are cars harmful to the environment?
Cars are considered the biggest air pollutants in an urban location. The smoke emitted from cars and then ends up in the air, contains particulate matter dangerous to health.
But in addition to smoke, cars are harmful to the environment and human health in another aspect. Through catalysts or as it is otherwise known the catalytic converter.
The catalyst in the car serves to clean the exhaust gases and consequently to reduce harmful emissions into the environment. Usually a catalyst has a service life in a car of about 4 to 5 years.
The catalyst, in itself, contains some precious metals and this pushes people to do their collection, to get the precious metals. The rest of the catalyst is thrown away in an uncontrolled manner.
Catalysts have a chemical content similar to that of asbestos, and are therefore considered a major hazard to humans, animals and the environment in general.
Nora Simitçiu is an ecologist by profession. She is also an environmental activist in the non-governmental organization ‘Ec ma Ndryshe’.
She says catalysts have recently been classified in the group of very hazardous wastes, as they contain refractory ceramic fibers, which are considered carcinogenic to humans.
“Due to this high level of risk, most developed countries in the world have specifically regulated by law the issue of catalysts. “As an ecologist, I think it is important for Kosovo to fix this issue as soon as possible, since such legal gaps give space to metal sellers or incompetent companies to process these catalysts, endangering health and the environment.”
The state of Kosovo specifically does not have a Law on Catalysts, but within the Law on Waste, vehicles treat waste and their components.
Article 38 of this Law also categorizes special wastes, which according to the Law, do not pose a risk to the environment and human health. Discarded vehicles and their waste are also included in this categorization.
While Article 48 of this Law talks about waste vehicle management.
This article states that persons managing waste vehicles must be licensed.
“Collection, dismantling and treatment of waste vehicles is done in centers for collection and treatment of this waste. “Persons who manage waste vehicles keep records and records on the amount of waste collected and treated, as well as the separation of materials and components hazardous to the environment and human health,” said in points 2 and 3 of the Law on Waste.
The fine, according to the Law on Waste, for companies that manage waste for vehicles without obtaining a license, ranges from 5 thousand to 50 thousand euros.
The Ministry of Environment does not have accurate data on licensed companies
The Ministry of Environment has not indicated exactly how many companies in Kosovo are licensed to treat waste vehicles, including catalysts. In a written response to KALLXO.com, they say there are several, without indicating the exact number.
“In Kosovo, there are several private companies that deal with the collection, collection and physical treatment of metal waste, including waste vehicles and their components.”
But the Ministry of Environment does not know exactly what happens to the catalysts, as they are removed from the vehicles. A short written response of the Ministry, says that mainly car waste is exported abroad.
“This waste is mainly exported abroad. The Ministry has drafted the primary and secondary legislation for waste, which is the Administrative Instruction for waste vehicles and their components “, it is said in the response of the Ministry.
On the other hand, Kosovo Customs has not provided data on how many catalysts have been exported from Kosovo in the last three years. They have provided data only for import.
These data show that Kosovo in 2019 imported 72 kilograms of catalysts; in 2020, 40 kilograms and in 2021 this figure has increased to 123 kilograms of catalysts.
Since the Ministry does not have accurate data on what happens to the catalysts, when they are removed from the cars, Nora Simitçiu from the non-governmental organization ‘Ec ma Ndryshe’, says that the state of Kosovo should address this issue with high priority.
She points out the fact that catalysts themselves contain precious metals such as rhodium, platinum and palladium, which Simitçiu says can be very profitable and that the idea of benefiting from this recycling process, can push many individuals who without prevent catalysts from processing, resulting in environmental contamination.
“Developed countries have already banned the resale of catalysts to scrap dealers and this can only be done by companies that are licensed by the competent authorities to perform the catalyst recycling service. The Republic of Kosovo can take into account the practices developed by these countries in the treatment of this waste and in cooperation with environmental experts to create adequate solutions “, emphasizes ecology Simitçiu.
Kosovo Environmental Protection Agency (KEPA), in the Municipal Waste Management Report for 2020, says that municipalities in Kosovo have not been able to provide quality data regarding waste recycling activity.
“During the processing of report data we have seen that we can not provide an approximate figure of the amount of waste that is recycled in municipalities,” said the report. KALLXO.com reports regarding the use of plastic bags.
The project “Using the media to raise awareness about the main causes of air pollution in Kosovo” is part of the “Dig Data Challenge” supported by the Millennium Foundation Kosovo (MFK) and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), as part of Dig Data Challenge for air quality data. The project is implemented by Internews Kosova.