At the end of last week, the city of Arad in Western Romania, was the host of an environment-themed event hosted by Business Review. Under the “Sustainable Romania” title, the event was attended by leading personalities from both the private and public sector of the counties of Arad, Bihor and Timis, which form together with Cluj County, the so-called “Western Alliance.”
One of the hottest topics of the conversation was that of domestic waste, a sector in which Romania has already taken several commitments before the European Union, which are yet far from fruition. The event’s moderator was Ionut Georgescu, CEO of FEPRA International, one of the leading organizations to call for an extended liability for producers. To the talking points proposed by Ionut Georgescu, Iustin Cionca, President of the Arad County Council, Calin Bibart, Mayor of Arad, Glad Varga, Arad deputy, Simona Stan, director of ADI Waste Arad, and Bujor Chirila, director of ADI Ecolect Oradea, brought their own perspectives and insights.
The conversation revolved around sustainable waste recycling and whether this is seen by authorities as an asset or as a burden, and around the problematic bureaucratic procedures which slow down the resolution of some issues by city halls and ADI Waste and possible solutions to solve these matters.
Deputy Glad Varga talked about several projects to modify the 211/2011 law, saying that it took him over 2 years to pass a draft amendment which led to an increase in the imposed fines on those who abandon waste.
“The ideal principle that must be applied is the circular economy. The main problem is that we began very late to educate and inform the population. We modified legislation to comply with European standards and we set tasks for both local authorities and private operators. But how can you enforce these tasks when the Environment Fund, with its huge budget, doesn’t grant funding for selective collection projects.” Says Deputy Glad Varga, a member of the Environment and Ecologic Balance Committee of the Chamber of Deputies.
Mayor Calin Bibart brought into discussion the problems which the city of Arad faced, immediately after the adoption of the new waste management system. “The project was implemented and it was left for City Halls to resolve the problems. Where things don’t work out well, citizens look toward authorities, meaning the City Hall.” He also came with a proposal for selective collection of packaging by engaging consumers to return the glass bottle or the PET which contained the bought product. The mayor also stated that he is in favor of a firm response from authorities when it comes to waste collection.
Iustin Cionca and Simona Stan talked about the waste management program implement in Arad, but also about the problems that came with it. “We didn’t set the price, nor the conditions, the Ministry of European Funds did. We have problems with the Polaris sorting facility, we know how hard it will be to persuade the population to adopt selective waste collection. But some important steps were made, though. I remember when, as a Mayor waste collection was being done with tractors and carriages.” Says the President of the Arad County Council.
One of the main reasons why waste-collecting companies abandoned the project was the very small price, according to Arad officials. “After ten years, the minister’s advisor proposed to update fees. We sent a plan but the Ministry hasn’t ruled yet.” Added Simona Stan.
Replying to this issue, the ADI Ecolect director wanted to clarify that in the neighboring county of Oradea, mayors can choose between a special tax or a tariff, while operators who want to take part in auctions must come with two proposals. “The winner of the public auction chooses based on the average between the tariff and the proposed special tax.” Concluded Bujor Chirila, director of ADI Ecolect Oradea.
Video from the event by ARQ.ro (in Romanian):
Coverage by Lucian Serban – ARQ.ro
Photo: Vasile Zarandan