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Changing culture in war on waste

Building up a network waste collection and recycling, a key Ministry of Economy department gives an inventory of Romania’s green market. Report by Magda Ion

February 2010 - From the Print Edition

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Last year’s financial crisis had a negative impact on the waste market, with the industry taking a tumble in line with the manufacturing sector.
“Our forecasts state the waste collection and recycling market decreased by the same proportion as production and consumption,” says Petru Ianc, general director for the Direction of Industrial Policies and Competition (DGPIC), in the Ministry of the Economy. “Steel production dropped by 52 per cent compared to 2008, while the consumption of iron waste dropped by 54 per cent. We estimate that in 2009 the amount of iron waste collected in Romania and recycled at home or abroad represents around two million tonnes, compared to previous annual levels of 3.6 million tonnes.”
The waste sector needs now to improve nationwide laws on waste recycling and prevent a rise in waste by making investment in new technologies. Ianc aims to implement the EU’s Integrated Product Policy (IPP), which seeks to prevent environmental degradation at every point in a product’s life cycle from manufacture to consumption to disposal. The ambition of the IPP is to promote products and services that are not harmful to the environment and increase the recycling and reuse of materials.
This will mean new domestic laws on product design, emissions ceiling and labelling, plus possibly new taxes or “voluntary commitments” from industry. “We intend to implement this new concept by introducing these themes in EU funding projects,” says Ianc.
Another objective of DGPIC is to see an increase in the quality of products from recycling waste through the modernisation of processing procedures, before introducing them into the manufacturing chain.

An X-ray of recycling

Romanian’s waste recycling currently employs around 20,000 people, according to Nicolae Dinculeasa, counsellor in the DGPIC.
For scrap metals there are over 2,000 SMEs, which collect, sort, store and ship it, some 300 SMEs that processes ferrous scrap for re-use and other six large integrated steel plants that use it as raw material.
For paper and cardboard waste there are now more than 800 SMEs collectors, over 180 processing SMEs and seven waste paper plants – compared to 11 at the end of 2008.
In plastic waste there are over 800 collecting SMEs, over 270 processing SMEs and five large companies and about 50 recycling SMEs.
The glass market has been hit by the appearance on the packaging market of plastic PET bottles and over-intensive production of glass bottles led to the closure of several factories, so now there is only one large manufacturer of glass and ten small decorative glass manufacturers, 50 SMEs that process the waste and over 300 SMEs collecting. “The reduction in glass producers - the main consumers of broken glass – prompted firms to identify new ways of reusing glass, such as glasswool, which is a material in road construction, building materials and some kinds of concrete,” says Dinculeasa. “Glass waste has difficulties in fulfilling its recycling targets, due to the lack of a coherent and generalised system of selective collection nationwide and an the insufficient capacity for recovery and recycling of broken glass.”
There are no manufacturers of portable and rechargeable batteries in Romania and an association to collect and recycle the market’s battery waste is being set up. Car batteries are built in two factories in Romania and there are three companies managing their collection and recycling.
The waste for electric and electronic materials (WEEE), such as washing machines and computers now has six collective organisations taking over the appliance manufacturers’ responsibilities for waste management, and four other large companies that collect, treat and recover WEEE.
From rubber waste, such as tyres, there are four production companies producing rubber granules, one plant for tyre pyrolysis, ten SMEs for tyre retreading, three cement companies that incinerate rubber for energy and over 300 SMEs collecting the waste.
For collecting and treating scrap vehicles there are 215 companies, for recycling and energy recovery of waste from scrap vehicles there are about 40 authorised economic operators and six shredders.
In Romania’s cash-for-clunkers programme, Rabla, the country has replaced 80,000 used vehicles between 2005-2008, in cash transactions of 72 million Euro. This translates into 1,800 tons of CO2 reduced. Since then the number of vehicles being drive that are over 20 years old has fallen from 24 per cent in 2003 to only six per cent in 2007, while vehicles under five years of age increased from 19 per cent in 2003 to 58 per cent in 2007.

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