The waste management situation in Bulgaria – Identification and transfer of waste management concepts, services and products in EU accession and candidate countries, and emerging and developing countries with scientific support

Dipl.-Ing. Jan Reichenbach (INTECUS) 2017: The waste management situation in Bulgaria. Identification and transfer of waste management concepts, services and products in EU accession and candidate countries, and emerging and developing countries with scientific support. Umweltbundesamt.

Bulgaria's waste management economy has come a long way since the country’s accession to the EU in 2007. Nevertheless, it is still regularly criticised and continues to face major challenges in the implementation of modern standards and jointly-agreed circular economy targets. Considerable national efforts have been made, but over the years they come predominantly in the form of programmatic work and the creation of necessary legal bases, rather than in actual regionally implemented successes. The creation of a satisfactory waste disposal solution for the capital Sofia took a long time and was repeatedly the source of negative headlines. The breakthrough in effective investment there and in other places is only very recent. However, an indicator of the still unsatisfactory state of the country's waste management sector is, above all, the extremely high proportion of waste ending up in landfills. However, more extensive analyses reveal a far broader range of deficits and problems, which are due not least to the country’s limited economic strength compared to other European countries and its lack of capacities in many areas.

As a result, Bulgaria has failed to fulfil its commitments and self-imposed targets for waste management in many areas, or else only with great delay, has delivered comparatively poor results and information for the sector, and thus quickly ends up in the hot seat for its inadequate waste management. The fact is that, for example, an EU-wide assessment of waste management by the Member States recently placed the country towards the bottom of the list. Using 18 evaluation criteria, only the situation in Greece placed even worse. Bulgaria, as well as selected cities in the country, ranked towards the lower end on the most important indicators and comparisons in terms of the implementation of the waste hierarchy and other waste management principles. Often, inadequate data added to the problem, which makes a full final assessment of the situation impossible.

The situation analysis of waste management in the Republic of Bulgaria attempts to further elucidate both what has already been achieved, and also relevant deficits and obstacles to identify starting points for cooperation, knowledge and technology transfer with Germany, which can support a sustainable improvement of Bulgarian waste management.