The PRIA Environment online conference | Selective waste collection: During and after the pandemic

Mihai Cristea 15/05/2020 | 15:01

The Pria Environment Conference, an event which over the years has become one of the most important platforms of environmental talks in Romania, was held last week in an online format, due to the current restrictions caused by the pandemic. The topic of this year’s conference, influenced by the times we live in, was the selective collection of waste, during and after the pandemic.

 

Ionut Georgescu, CEO of FEPRA INTERNATIONAL, one of the speakers of the online conference, talked about different scenarios for the pandemic and its impact on environment issues: “The Ministry of Environment should go on record and clearly state how selective waste collection should proceed. We need to know that, because in a negative scenario, in which we will live in a coronavirus-affected world for another 3-5 years, there needs to be a clear direction. What will happen with selective collection, are authorities prepared for this scenario?” Georgescu raised the question.

The FEPRA CEO continued to talks about who should take on the responsibility of selective collection and what needs to change in the waste industry: “Under the guidance of packaging producers, private operators should take responsibility for selective collection. We need to open up towards new tech in the waste managements sector. Most companies in this industry are stuck in the past, but the world is changing.”

To the main question of the talk, how do we focus on selective collection and recycling during this period, Georgescu said that the market needs to open up: “At the moment, we need to move fast and open up the selective collection market. Local authorities don’t have the capacity to quickly change their systems. The market needs to be freed and we have to get in touch directly with the consumer.” Georegscu concluded.

 

How the beer industry sees glass packaging

Julia Leferman, General Director of Berarii Romaniei (Brewers of Romania), talked about how the beer industry sees glass and other recyclable materials.

“From the beer consumer perspective, the recyclable glass packaging will lose field, mostly because the closing of many hospitality enterprises, where a large chunk of this type of packaging was used. Domestic beer consumers usually prefer other types of packaging. But for glass packaging waste, the most important thing is to collect separately.”

 

On the same issue, the importance of collecting glass waste separately, Constantin Damov, Green Group President, said the following: “Glass waste should have a separate flow, because it hinders the collection process. Glass becomes a hazardous waste, it can create a magnifying glass effect and many landfill fires start like this. The conclusion is simple, glass must be collected selectively from other types of waste.”

 

Radu Merica, General Director of RER (Ecological Recovery and Recycling), talked about the challenges, but also the solutions, of achieving a successful selective collection of packaging waste. “The logistic chain is somehow complicated. If a consumer from Bucharest who buys a glass bottle with a custom design made in Satu Mare, it’s very difficult to for the producer to reclaim that bottle. But, a recyclable package should never become waste. We need to adapt at a local level, the solution is in local collection centers, where consumers could leave their recyclables.”

 

Mircea Fechet, State Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, shared the government’s perspective on the discussed topics.

“As a EU member, of course it’s imperative to improve our selective waste collection. Currently, stats show that Romania is at the bottom of selective waste collection standings in the EU. We are treating this with the utmost attention, because we need to improve our levels. For this, we have the required legislation, but in practice, unfortunately, this legislation is not enforced in many cases. For example, in many residential ares there are no selective collection facilities, but we will try to make this a reality.”

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