EU ‘green’ laws boost local recycling industry

Newsroom 11/09/2007 | 16:33

Silviu Prigoana, founder and president of local sanitation companies Rosal Group, started the recycling business unit of his company last year in September. According to Prigoana, the investment in this business line should reach EUR 50 million over five to seven years, with the projection of the new building alone costing more than half a million euros.
Another firm in the recycling field is Greentech, which owns a facility in Buzau dealing with plastic waste recycling. The shareholders of the company have also invested in polyester fibers facilities in Buzau and Iasi.
“The recycling business isn't profitable from our point of view, because of the increased operational costs. We expect to become profitable from this year, due to the polyester fiber plants that are operational and will take over the remainder of the recycling process,” George Fratila, commercial manager of Greentech, told Business Review.
The firm acquires PET waste for about EUR 3 million per tonne and until the fiber producing plants became operational it exported the PET flakes or chips to Europe. The processing of the PET waste consists of sorting, crushing, washing, drying and packing the result. This year the second fiber producing plant was open and Fratila expects the turnover of the company to double as a result. The production of the fiber plants goes to the European and the Asian markets.
The existing recycling business should get a boost due to EU regulations on waste management, recycling and destruction. At the same time, authorities will have to get involved even more in increasing public awareness of the issue.
In Romania package waste is 60 percent generated by the public, mainly household waste, while 40 percent is caused by the corporate segment. Data released by the Environment Ministry show that in 2005 1.14 million tonnes of packaging was released on the local market, of which 26 percent was incinerated and about 23 percent recycled. Taking into account the evolution of the quantity of packaging waste in the last two years, the ministry predicts that the market will increase by 10 to 15 percent in the next year.
Representatives of Eco Rom Ambalaje, an association of packaging manufacturers and users, estimate that the value of packaging waste corresponding to these quantities is about EUR 4,176 million. They also expect new international companies to enter the local market.
Eco Rom Ambalaje takes over companies' obligations regarding packaging waste and recycling activities and to report the required information. The turnover of the companies in this association is more than EUR 1 billion.
The investment needed to build a recycling facility depends on the type of waste that is being recycled. In the case of packaging waste Eco Rom representatives put the sum at between EUR 25,000 and 10 million.
By the end of 2006, 640 companies were relying on Eco Rom's recycling activity. Out of the 525,000 tonnes of packaging waste introduced by these companies on the market, 170,000 tonnes came through the group.
EU waste management legislation covers IT&C waste too. For this a “green tax” was imposed by the European Commission for each product sold. For example, for a computer the tax will be approximately EUR 8. Representatives of EcoTic, an IT&C waste management association, estimated that money raised from computer taxes alone will total about EUR 3.5 million. Some of the cash will be used for public awareness campaigns while the rest will go on recycling and eliminating waste.
The tax will be levied by retailers and transferred to the producers and importers of IT&C and electronic equipment and home appliances. Waste management associations and companies will then receive it. Local authorities will collect, transport and recycle the old equipment.
The European Union has also set waste collection targets of four kilograms to be recycled for each inhabitant by 2009, which is considered far too high by EcoTic representatives. If the target is not met, sanctions may be applied. There is some leeway for new members, however. Hungary, which joined the union in 2004, negotiated lower targets in order to avoid sanctions. Fines for dumping old electronic equipment along with other waste will be between EUR 150 and 1,500.

Roxana Mihul

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