The Eastern European country reported that only 48 percent of municipal waste ended up in landfills while 44 percent was recycled.
This can be seen as an important step, given the fact that in 2016 69% of the waste was still sent to landfill. However, the figures published by the national statistics office also bear witness to the fact that Slovakia still does not meet the 50% recycling target set by the European Commission.
A 2019 national report released by the European Commission addresses other important issues that need to be addressed before Slovakia can be considered to have made progress towards an effective circular economy model. One of these concerns is the lack of financial incentives to conduct environmentally friendly production. Public support measures given to small and medium-sized enterprises for their efficient use of resources increased from 52% in 2015 to 43% in 2017, despite growing interest in sustainable options within the business sector. Low public funding and insufficient private investment in R&D have also been identified as the main causes of the lack of eco-innovation in the country. As a result, in 2017, the country ranked 20th out of 28 EU countries.
The inefficiency of the waste management system has also been attributed to the large number of municipalities in Slovakia, each area having its own waste collection, treatment and recycling system. The location and commercial availability of waste incineration plants in Bratislava and Košice further exacerbate regional disparities – while only 8 percent of waste ends up being incinerated nationwide, Bratislava and Košice alone burn. 30 and 27 percent of their waste.
In 2020, the Slovak government used legislative and economic measures to tackle the aforementioned issues and promote sustainable waste management. A landfill fee that is expected to be increased annually from 2021 promises to divert waste from landfill while boosting recycling and reuse.
In summary, the way forward in waste management will require stronger government support (from financial disincentives to financing innovation), effective implementation of relevant legislation as well as a coherent administrative response to the recycling that involves and engages local citizens.