The Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA) has published an open letter to President Rossen Plevneliev and several other state and government leaders objecting to a law that came into effect at the beginning of 2013 requiring businesses with office buildings to sign contracts on separate waste collection for recycling.
The law now requires businesses to make arrangements for separate handling of their waste plastic, paper, glass and metal. Penalties for failing to obey the new rules in the Waste Management Act can reach up to 10 000 leva (about 5000 euro).
The BIA said that in the first week of this year, it had received dozens of messages from companies unable to comply with the requirements.
According to the new rules, businesses and office buildings have two options, either to sign a contract with a licensed company to deal with separated waste, or in places with more than 5000 inhabitants, to make use of the municipal recycling system.
BIA deputy chairman Dimitar Brankov said that “unfortunately, in most places in the country it is not possible to meet these requirements”. He said that the fines provided for in the law were excessive, especially at a time of financial crisis. SMEs and companies that were not doing well would be especially vulnerable, according to the BIA.
European Union requirements are that by 2020, 50 per cent of the total weight of household weight should be recycled.
In its open letter, addressed to Plevneliev, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, National Assembly Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva, Environment Minister Nona Karadzhova and others, the BIA said that once again in Bulgaria, the responsibility for implementing the requirements of the EU were being transferred primarily to business.
The state could not cope with the requirements for waste collection and the increasing pressure from the EU and had introduced schemes and procedures without corresponding human, organizational, technical and above all, legal infrastructure being in place, the BIA said.
The rules would put businesses out of business or force them to shift to the informal sector, the letter said. The regulations, which were at variance with current European practice, would discourage potential foreign investors, the business association said.
The amendments to the Waste Management Act had come into effect on January 1 2013 but in none of Bulgaria’s 264 municipalities had any regulations been adopted to enable the implementation of the requirements of the amendments, the BIA said.
“There is no established organisation of separate collection. It is not clear who will fund the collection and processing of such waste, meaning that there is deep confusion and administrative chaos, which once again affects business,” the association’s letter said.
Bulgaria was becoming a country not of economic incentives and regulations but a country of sanctions, the letter said.
Bulgaria was proportionately one of the largest producers of waste in Europe, because of a lack of economic incentives to implement policies on separate waste collection, according to the BIA. The state should identify and apply incentives for separate waste collection instead of having a policy of sanctions, the association said.
It said that the Constitutional Court should be approached to overturn provisions of the law including those allowing local authorities to determine the basis for charging a fee when it cannot determine the amount of waste, while Parliament and municipalities should approve amendments and take the action necessary to build the necessary infrastructure and efficient systems for separate collection and enforcement of basic rules on determining solid waste, on the basis of quantities generated and treated.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)