Public asked to refrain from burning leaves

Something of which Latvia has no shortage at this time of year is leaves. Latvians are famously a nation of tree-lovers, if not tree-huggers, and many a rake will be flashing in the autumn sunshine this week. 

However, members of the public are being asked not to burn the results of their labors but instead to use more environmentally-friendly ways of disposing of their leaf piles, such as composting, reported Latvian Radio October 7.

Municipalities are helping out by offering several different alternatives. Collection points, which are growing in popularity every year, will be located again in Rīga. Sigulda, on the other hand, with a viable claim to be Latvia's leaf capital, is distributing large garbage bags to residents and is preparing to build a city compost pile next year. Meanwhile, people from Liepāja are invited to bring their garden waste to a designated landfill. 

Creating your own compost is a universal option for all residents of Latvia.

In Rīga, for the eighth year, collection points have been set up in residential areas. Riga City Council Executive Director Juris Radzevičs said that there were more than ten collection points across the capital city.

Last year more than a thousand tonnes were collected. The number is growing every year and the collection points are becoming more popular. The city executive added that the drive would last four weeks.

Sigulda municipality starts its campaign on Monday, during which each property can receive five 125-liter garbage bags. They can then be transferred to specific locations from which they are taken free of charge. Sindija Brikmane, head of the municipal public relations department, explained that the campaign would last until the end of October.

“In the past years, we have also been supporting residents in collecting garden waste. But as we are currently in the process of setting up a composting site, which we plan to do next year, we are offering this year a larger volume of waste bags to be sorted. So people don't have to worry about burning these leaves and dry branches," Brikmane said.

Liepāja municipality offers three options for residents. Owners of private homes and gardens can make their own compost. It can then be used as a fertilizer for gardens and trees. Bags can be taken to a waste sorting area with special containers, or a landfill.

Aigars Štāls, a public relations specialist at the public administration, said that other alternatives were being tried in Liepāja, but that things were not always as simple as they might appear.

“We have had an attempt in the city, together with the area cleaning companies, to create our own common compost area in the city, which then can be used for the city's greenery, flothwer beds, parks. Unfortunately, there is a huge investment required by existing regulations to create such a composting area. There has to be a whole range of environmental protection requirements, and that is quite an expensive measure. As a result, we have abandoned the creation of such an area at this time,” explained Štāls.

Either way, residents are asked to refrain from burning leaves or dumping them by the roadside.

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