Minister Julian Popov: We need to change people's attitude towards waste

24 Jan, 2024 | 10:31

The Minister of Environment and Water called for this during a meeting with representatives of 100 municipalities in the country

"We are moving from one era to another - from the danger of being sanctioned for non-compliance with European legislation to a change in our attitude towards waste. Let us bring discipline without punishment and see waste as a raw material'. This is what Environment and Water Minister Julian Popov said during a meeting with representatives of 100 municipalities yesterday in Sofia. The meeting was attended by Deputy Minister Nikolay Sidzhimov, the head of the Managing Authority of Programme "Environment" 2021-2027 Galina Simeonova, the director of the Waste Management and Soil Protection Directorate at the Ministry of Environment Svetlana Bozhkova, and experts from the teams of the two directorates.

At the meeting, the draft of the Waste Management Amendment Act (WMA) and relevant regulations were presented. The representatives of the municipalities were acquainted with the procedure for the construction, expansion and upgrading of municipal and regional systems for separate collection and recycling of biodegradable waste, which is funded under the Programme "Environment" 2021-2027.

According to Minister Popov, Bulgaria has solved the problem with the infringement procedure for waste, but much more important is the state of the environment. "If you go up on Vitosha, you might not see it now from the snow, but the whole mountain is covered with waste. And the only way to get rid of the waste is for us to create a market for it. We can't go around the country being policemen and punishing everybody. So, we need to change people's attitude towards waste," he explained.

The draft Waste Management Amendment Act provides for regulatory changes related to environmentally friendly waste management that affects local government obligations. The most important of these relates to the introduction of mandatory separate collection of municipal waste on the territory of the municipality, including shoe and textile waste, ash and soot originating from private households. The draft amendment provides for the provision of at least one site for the free delivery of separately collected household waste on the territory of the municipality, including bulky waste, hazardous waste, etc.

Deputy Minister Nikolay Sidzhimov added that it is planned to organize separate collection of packaging waste, which will cover the majority of the population. "We will introduce an obligation for all settlements with more than 700 inhabitants, including resorts, to have a separate collection system for packaging waste. Thus, we will cover almost the entire territory of the country with such systems," he stated.

In order to meet the requirements of the regulations for separate collection of biodegradable municipal waste and their subsequent recycling, the Programme "Environment" has prepared the procedure "Measures for construction, expansion and/or upgrade of municipal/regional systems for separate collection and recycling of biodegradable waste", which will be announced in March 2024.

Galina Simeonova, Head of the Managing Authority of the programme, presented to the municipalities the opportunities under the procedure. Specific beneficiaries are 167 municipalities from 33 regional waste management systems, which are included in Annex 8 of the National Waste Management Plan. For the remaining municipalities in the Annex a separate procedure will be announced in early 2025. Eligible activities are the construction, extension or upgrading of systems for separate collection and transport of municipal biodegradable waste through the purchase of the necessary containers, machinery and equipment for the mandatory separate collection of green and food waste, with an additional option for paper, cardboard and wood waste, which is currently collected in a mixed way.

"With the measures under this procedure we are trying to enable municipalities to achieve the goals in the law regarding separate collection and subsequent treatment of biodegradable waste, as well as to make the next step towards a more modern understanding of waste management at municipal level", said Galina Simeonova in an address to the representatives of the municipalities. She added that municipalities will be able to apply both independently and in partnership and called for transparency and dialogue between everyone in the process. "You know the specifics of your community, so when deciding whether you will expand an existing system or build a completely new one, think of your project as a complete homogeneous system with the best logistics to reach the citizens and motivate them to dispose of their waste separately," said Galina Simeonova in conclusion.

The implementation of the projects will contribute to achieving compliance with the requirements of the waste management legislation and the national targets for 2030 related to mandatory separate collection of bio-waste and reduction of landfilled municipal waste.