Overhauling the city’s waste management system

The bustling capital city of Bulgaria, Sofia, is the 15th largest city in the EU and is host to a number of major universities, cultural institutions and businesses. However as the city grows and modernises, the city is also making sure that its waste management system keeps up.

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Behind the scenes of every major city lies the issue of what to do with the waste created by its inhabitants. The city of Sofia is establishing a modern, compliant and integrated municipal waste management system that it will meet the requirements of the EU waste legislation.

Turning waste into fuel

The rubbish we create can sometimes be more than trash, and can be used to create energy. As part of the project a Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) plant is being constructed at the Sadinata site with Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) production capabilities. The RDF can be used as an alternative fuel in a co-generation facility at the Sofia District Heating Plant as well as in cement factories in Bulgaria. Once bio-waste and green waste have been sorted out, the plant will then treat all household waste from Sofia. With a capacity of approximately 410 000 tons per year, waste treatment operations is aimed to run 310 days a year, meaning that it will have an average daily treatment capacity of 1 320 tons per day.

In addition to the production of RDF, the MBT process comprises of the mechanical/manual separation and sorting, biological treatment of organic waste. Residual waste treated in the MBT plant is composed of two different streams: waste produced by households (household waste) and waste generated by shops, stores, offices and factories (commercial wastes).

Creating jobs

During the course of the project it is estimated that 71 jobs were created. When the waste plant will open another 102 new jobs will be created. In addition to the number of maximum direct jobs created, a number of non-direct jobs will be created, in much the same way the MBT plant will maximise the amount of recycling of materials. Organic fraction will be utilised to obtain a Compost Like Output (CLO), a stabilised compost which can then be applied in land remediation processes or as a soil improver.

By segregating and finding alternative uses for waste the city is limiting and reducing the amount of waste that would potentially be deposited in a landfill, and reduce potential emissions on the landfill.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Integrated System of Municipal Waste Treatment Facilities for Sofia Municipality – phase II” is EUR 176 900 496, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 149 056 357 for the 2007 to 2013 programming period. The project is funded through the priority “Improvement and development of waste treatment infrastructure” of the Operational Programme “Environment”. It follows a first construction phase which represents a total investment of EUR 69 443 245 and an EU contribution of EUR 42 959 675 under the same operational programme and the same priority.

Draft date

17/09/2015