AbstractThis paper deals with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions originating from changes in the waste sector in developing and transitional economies. Using a Serbian case study, the effects of different waste disposal techniques on GHG emissions were analyzed in three scenarios: the current one, the worst one, and the best one. According to the Serbian national‐waste management strategy, a large number of dumpsites and unsanitary landfills should be merged into several regional sanitary landfills. Results obtained from the SWM‐GHG Calculator have shown potentially higher emissions from modern regional landfills than from dumpsites. Related environmental policy should therefore be analyzed in detail and applied. Environmental policy options are analyzed using the SWOT technique. The policy option to be implemented depends on country‐specific circumstances, such as the adequate functioning of institutions, the effectiveness of the judicial system, the established legal framework, and the general level of competence in the waste management sector. If all of these conditions are in place, the ‘polluter pays’ option is the superior one. However, if the level of knowledge and capacity in waste sector is low, and if there are no adequate institutions, or if the judicial system is inefficient, the first option appears to be the right one. © 2019 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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