Land of Waste – “For me, a normal situation would have been in school studying books instead of studying bins”
Albania is slowly sinking under the weight of Europe’s waste. This report investigates an industry of waste that is both necessary for survival, yet a threat for many Albanians. For how long can it continue?
“For us, the Roma, it is our only work, because nobody will hire us”, says Renato, a scavenger earning half the average national wage. In the “dustbin of Europe”, countries such as Serbia, Slovenia and Russia dump their scrap in vast quantities. Yet Albania’s infrastructure is insufficient for dealing with this often toxic waste. Despite efforts to restrict imports, waste continues to enter under the guise of “raw material”. In towns such as Elbasan, home to a large metallurgical plant, the poor control on the industry is beginning to destroy the health of its workers. As one doctor describes, “On one hand, the community has been here for a long time, and needs work. But on the other, it cannot afford the sacrifice”.