Waste not, want not
As part of a major national effort to replace existing disposal sites, Bulgaria has recently built five new regional solid waste landfills. The project brings the nation into line with European regulations on solid waste management and avoids potential environmental damage from pollution and unregulated landfills.
“We are setting up a full-scale recycling section to extract metal, glass, plastic and paper with two different systems to deal with domestic and construction waste.”
Plamen Kanazizov, landfill manager for Ruse
The new sites form part of the Bulgarian National Waste Management Programme. A key goal is to build or reconstruct regional landfills and reduce the solid waste network from the existing 700 sites down to 56 new disposal sites.
Meeting EU standards
Landfilling used to be Bulgaria’s main disposal method for solid waste. In 1997, 99% of the nation’s collected waste was dumped in some 700 landfills, most of which did not comply with EU requirements on solid waste management.
National authorities decided to address this situation in part by building five regional waste disposal sites. These were to replace more than 100 existing disposal sites serving the areas of Montana, Ruse, Sevlievo, Silistra, and Sozopol. Three-quarters of the total funding for this work came from the EU’s Cohesion Fund, the rest being nationally financed.
The project aimed to achieve solid waste management in full compliance with European and Bulgarian regulations and thereby avoid potential environmental damage from old polluted and unregulated landfills. Further objectives were to reduce pollution into the Danube and into the Black Sea basin, to shut down some of the oldest and most polluted disposal sites, and to rehabilitate the former disposal sites.
Better waste management
As a result of the five-year project, some 100 jobs were created in the operational phase. Fly-tipping sites were closed and there were improvements in waste management and control. Reuse and recycling ratios have increased, and today there are more organised collections and transportation. More environmentally friendly disposal of waste also helps to prevent the leaching of contaminants into the water table and the River Danube, and has led to better monitoring.
The newly built Ruse landfill replaces 19 tipping sites. It has three cells for non-hazardous domestic waste, two for inert waste, and two for hazardous waste. Cleaner solids come out of the system, which then go back into the landfill, while unpolluted water is absorbed by the sewerage system. The Montana landfill offers five cells with a drainage system for leachate collection, a bottom water-tight seal, and a gas pipeline for methane in the surrounding dyke, plus modern dedicated infrastructure.