The municipalities are not ready for the introduction of a household waste fee according to the amount, and the responsibility is constantly transferred both to them and to the lack of methodology, but this should be common every day, not only with campaigns "Let's clean Bulgaria together."
Bulgaria is the last country in the EU that does not calculate a household waste fee according to the quantity. The topic was one of the highlights of the visit of the European Commissioner for the Environment to Bulgaria at the end of last week. Waste management needs to continue to improve – an area where Bulgaria has been identified as one of the countries at risk of meeting the recycling target by 2025. Other areas for improvement include the recommendations of the Early Warning Report for waste, explained the European Commissioner after a meeting with Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov. Bulgaria is among 14 member states that have not met the targets for the period, but still 113 landfills have already been closed. Bulgaria is the last in the EU to have a different system for calculating the garbage fee. This is not only a decision of the government, but also of the local self-government authorities, often things depend on local decisions, this makes things difficult, it became clear from the words of the European Commissioner.
Along with air, this is one of the topics on which our country must continue to work, he emphasized. Just one day after the massive campaign to clean up Bulgaria, we see how much more we have to do to deal with unregulated waste disposal in our country.
The next deadline laid down in the legislation for the introduction of a garbage fee according to the amount is up to two years from the release of the census data, we are obliged to introduce the "polluter pays" principle. This is what we talked about in an interview for 3eNews with the Deputy Minister of Environment and Water Nikolay Sidzhimov in the first cabinet of Kiril Petkov, who again took this post in the current cabinet. The census data came out at the beginning of October 2022 (October 3), which means that in October 2024 we should have a new system for determining the garbage fee. That's why we've been talking for more than a decade. The system is to pay for the waste we throw away, measure the amount of waste we throw away and pay a fee on that basis. At the moment, what we pay is more of a tax that does not really reflect how much we throw away, but is paid based on a tax assessment and does not incentivize people to take steps to reduce waste. But it is clear that, in parallel, more effective schemes for separate collection must be introduced in the municipalities themselves, information campaigns will be made for people on how to separate waste.
More recently, however, it became clear that from 2025, the amount of the "household waste" fee will be calculated based on the generated volume. This happened during a briefing by Prof. Dr. Atanas Atanasov, chairman of the National Statistical Institute (NSI) and Silvia Georgieva, the executive director of the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria (NAMRB). They signed an agreement according to which the municipalities will receive official data from the census of the population and the housing stock in Bulgaria.
These are the data related to the number of service users in a property in the "Household data" section, which will be used when developing the new garbage collection methodology.
The data will be extremely useful for the municipalities because they provide information about all the dwellings in the country, about the households and the number of their members. "The text and model of this agreement took a year, because it was precisely drafted under the current legislation and the details included in it were thoroughly considered by our teams," commented Georgieva at the time. She added that the law on local taxes and fees required the signing of an agreement to move to a gradual calculation of the volume of waste raw materials.
"Zlatograd and Banite are making experimental efforts to calculate the volume of waste for each household, and one of the main problems faced by colleagues from these municipalities is multi-family residential buildings," said Georgieva. According to her, the municipalities can choose a model for calculating waste on the basis of discarded bags, on the basis of the amount of waste or on the number of users of the property, the latter being used at the moment. According to her, the signed agreement between NSI and NAMRB will also help to expand the separate collection system throughout the country.
Already a year ago, the Ministry of Environment and Waters made a commitment that the preparation of a methodology for a garbage fee will be one of the first projects under the "Environment" program 2021-2027. The development of such a methodology, according to unofficial information, costs about 10 million euros and will include options and models for different types of municipalities. We are still waiting for news from the Ministry on how far it has reached in the development of such a methodology. But the introduction of a garbage fee according to the quantity is not only a matter of preparation of the methodology, but also of the desire of the municipalities. In some municipalities such as Svilengrad, Zlatograd and smaller municipalities, these things are already happening, they have seen the effectiveness of introducing such principles and are working in this direction.
There are various mechanisms and ways in which this can be done. The project will say under what specific conditions it can do first, second, etc. and choose what is best for them. The important thing is that the municipalities will have a ready instruction on how they can introduce the "polluter pays" principle, Deputy Minister Nikolay Sidzhimov said a year ago, when he also held this position in the Eco-Ministry. From then on, it is a matter of willingness to implement it on the part of the municipalities. We understood that precisely these methods will be developed under the program, and with additional funds from the operational program, an additional opportunity will be provided for the municipalities to purchase the necessary equipment, software, etc.
The requirement for its introduction has already been set because, as we commented, we are delaying for too long. Whether and how, in which municipalities it will be introduced remains to be seen, because this reform has been delayed for too long and there are fears that it will not be delayed once again.