MOVECO - Innovation group 3 – challenges and recommendations (Action plan)

MOVECO established action plans for three innovation groups. Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia were ranked into the same group characterised as Innovation group III - modest innovators. Although Romania and Bulgaria are EU countries (with environmental protection laws, regulation and policies concerning waste management and waste production fully alined with EU directives) and Serbia is in the process of Accession to the European Union all three country are facing very similar problems and challenges in the process of transition toward circular economy.

Current status

Although there are great efforts and lot of directives regulating the field of waste management, landfills continue to be the main places for waste disposal.The policy frameworks in the region face many challenges and in addition in the case of Serbia it is not sufficiently supported at national level, which results in very loose control and sanctioning mechanisms in all three countries.Apart f rom transposing of EU directives into national legislation the governments in Bulgaria and Romania are doing little to lay down the foundations for the waste-to-resources ecosystem to function. The long term strategy on circular economy is missing altogether. There are many problems with the legislation and its enforcement instead due to continuous changes in the legislation, its poor implementation and the failure of various key actors in taking ownership of responsibilities.

Regular statistics on the production and management of waste from businesses and private households are collected in order to monitor the implementation of European Union waste policy. But in order to achieve excellence in waste prevention, maximization of recovery, safe disposal and resource efficiency there is a huge demand for detailed statistics on waste generation, source, collection and treatment. More detailed statistic we have about waste, easier will be to measure the current situation, compare and predict the necessary actions.

There is still a big gap between the percentage of waste defined by law that needs to be collected and recycled and the one that is really recycled. Even more, to different extend all three countries are struggling to implement effective separate waste collection and have lack of administrative capacity to enforce the existing legislation, with Serbia still having plenty of illegal landfills, both Serbia and Bulgaria having ‘informal’ waste collectors, Romania not meeting WP, WEEE and WB&A collection targets and despite of the official requirements not all of the municipalities and business in Bulgaria are fulfilling their requirements for fulfilling their obligation for separate waste collection.

What is needed?

Law enforcement is an issue in these countries, with a lack of resources to supervise and monitor operations and end users. Establishing waste infrastructure market conditions and ensuring the competitiveness of the recycling industry will be crucial points to deal with. Acoording to the results of the MOVECO project (see the derived Action plan), a systematic approach to circular economy is needed.

The holistic solution of the circular economy shall mean that we end the practice of end-of-pipe solutions, and assess the problems, tasks and solutions at all stages of the product life-cycle.We need to start at the production stage, by creating incentivised market conditions, in which producers must be responsible for eco-design. Based on this approach, collection and treatment solutions shall be re-drafted, re-organised, and invested in, in which resources shall be turned back into produced goods, and the leftovers are managed to the fullest extent. We need to consider low value or negative value materials as tasks to be solved by controlled conditions as well, and need to make market actors accountable for providing solutions to avoid the boomerang effect.

More about the recommended measures and actions can be found in THE DANUBE GOES CIRCULAR Cross-Country Road Map for Bulgaria, Romania,Serbia or in the documents translated into Bulgarian, Romanian and Serbian.