Business Review Focus on Environment: Improving legislation to support the fulfilment of EU recycling targets

Tax & Law Focus on Environment: We need to improve legislation to be able to reach EU recycling targets.

The legislative changes in the waste collection sector that entered into force at the beginning of the year have upset all actors in the field. Business Review’s Tax & Law Focus on Environment event brought together all market players, including authorities, to see where companies and UATs need to go to meet their targets by EU rules and to reach a real circular economy.

“We are in a situation where the lack of trust between stakeholders is major”, said Ionuț Georgescu, Founder & CEO of Fepra Waste Division, who added that unfortunately, “there is a rather large lack of transparency in the recycling sector waste.

The waste management market reached the value of 200 million euros in 2018, an amount that someone has to pay when collection and recycling are not carried out. Moreover, the data of the Ministry of the Environment show that only 14% of the total waste produced is recycled, far below the European average of almost 50%. The level of 14% places us in the penultimate place in the EU.

Photo gallery from the event:

Emilia Patruti, Environmental and Mineral Resources Director at Romaqua Group, showed that, from the manufacturers’ point of view, the amended law has led to the situation where only the manufacturers are responsible for the packaging produced.

“The law, through the responsibility given to producers, does not also involve the other market actors, distributors, local authorities, traders or consumers”, says Emilia Patruti.

“There should be a dialogue between all actors in the market, including local authorities, to find the best solutions for the collection/recycling system.”

“The biggest problem I see is that for 15 years we have been trying the same solutions and we have the same negative results. We must admit our failure and find real, objective solutions to solve the problems”, says Ionut Georgescu.

“The field of recycling needs investments”, says Alin Petru Teiusanu, Executive Director at Opremat. “But we still reach the regulations. Unfortunately, it is an area subject to European legislation. We have succeeded in having a rich national legislation and in this legislative framework we still manage to have activity. Then, taxation, which obliges us to pay a fee when recycling waste. All this raises questions about our competitiveness”, says Petru Teiusanu.

Alin Visan, Legal & Compliance Director at Maspex Romania, shows that we need better quality and higher volume recycling. “If we talk about packaging, the targets are met with the help of the money that the producers pay. What are not fulfilled are the waste diversion lines from the pit, municipal recycling in general”, says Visan.

Mihai Sofian, president of the Remat Holding group, explained that recyclers see things differently than producers. “We process and recycle any type of waste, except dangerous ones. We make investments exclusively with our own money, we don’t have any kind of help from the state and I don’t know where the money that the producers pay goes to,” explained Sofian.

Cosmin Teodoru, Director General for Waste Contaminated Sites and Hazardous Substances at the Romanian Ministry of Environment, started by saying that we operate according to a single European principle and everyone is responsible, but in the last instance the manufacturer is the main responsible for the packaging they put on market.

“Producers have their role, important, and they must understand that their role is changing”, says Cosmin Teodoru.

Mariana Olaru, Head of Waste Division at ANPM, stated that the main problem of the Agency is the selective collection of waste. 

“This activity is strictly the responsibility of the local authorities. Without collecting the packaging separately, we will not be able to meet the targets that are increasing from year to year. In 2020, the EURATOM decision appeared, establishing a budget at the EU level through which each state will pay from 2023, based on data from 2021, a price of 0.8 euros for each kilogram of non-recycled plastic packaging. Romania now has a recycling target of 30%. An enormous amount will be paid for the difference of 70%”, says Mariana Olaru.

She also showed that there are counties where the collection infrastructure was built, but the population does not select anything. “An awareness campaign is needed.”

Emanuel Parvulescu, from the Association of Large Commercial Networks in Romania, showed that everyone is partially right.

“As far as traders are concerned, we can say that we are the largest producers of waste in Romania and which are sent on a traceability flow to be recycled. What we can see is that a good part of consumers, when they have no sustainable solution in the area where they live, come to us to be able to recycle. Batteries, used oil, etc.,” says Parvulescu.

Geanin Serban, the President of the OIREP Association, showed that a period full of challenges awaits us, in which there will be a lot of work to regulate the entire waste management system.