Bulgaria’s Plan to Turn Waste Into Energy Gets Go-Signal from EU
Fri, December 3, 2021

Bulgaria’s Plan to Turn Waste Into Energy Gets Go-Signal from EU

Bulgaria's proposal of turning the country’s unrecyclable municipal waste into power has recently received approval from the European Commission / Photo by: Nenko Lazarov via Wikimedia Commons

 

Bulgaria's proposal of turning the country’s unrecyclable municipal waste into power has recently received approval from the European Commission.  The executive branch of the EU says that it will support Bulgaria’s operation and construction of a highly-efficient cogeneration plant that will convert the 180,000 tonnes of municipal waste into power.

Fueling the Cogeneration Plant With Municipal Waste

The Balkan nation, which has the second-highest recycling rate of plastic packaging waste among other European Union member states, wanted to reduce the CO2 emissions that are also in line with the environmental objectives of the EU. Based on its proposal, the plant will produce electricity and heat with approximately 55 megawatts capacity of head and 19 megawatts of electricity. About 180,000 tonnes of unrecyclable municipal waste per year will be utilized by the country to fuel the plant, reports central and eastern Europe news provider Emerging Europe.

The cogeneration plant’s combined production of electricity and heat will help save about 45.6% of primary energy compared to a scenario where electricity and heat are produced separately in the country.

The person in charge of the competition policy Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that the support measure from the EU will assist Bulgaria in achieving its energy efficiency targets. The construction of the cogeneration plant will be finalized by 2023.

A part of the €93.8 million budget for the waste incinerator comes from the structural funds of the trade bloc (intergovernmental agreement) funds. Then, the remaining €3 million will come from the Stolichna Municipality or the Sofia Municipality as a form of a cheap loan.

Waste Incinerator

Bulgaria’s waste incinerator, which will be combined with energy-efficient technology GHP that generates electricity and captures heat, complies with the EU’s Waste Framework Directive (WFD). This is according to the EU's executive arm. The purpose of the WFD was to lay the basis to turn the EU into a recycling society. Brussels regulators have also concluded that the waste that will be subject to energy recovery in Bulgaria’s plant has been subject to the preliminary treatment and can no longer be recycled further. If it can’t be used for energy recovery, then it would go to the landfill. 

The cogeneration plant is already the third phase of waste treatment program meant for Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, and is funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). The country’s local authority is counting to save about €15 million and €18 million on their annual sales as the new energy resource would substitute 10% or 65 million cubic meters of natural gas, reported green energy news provider Balkan Green Energy News.

It will also help save the city’s budget because it is currently paying 5 million lev (Bulgarian currency) or €2.56 million to cement producers to burn their nonrecyclable waste. Sofia’s Mayor Yordanka Fandakova and her associates forecast that the profit of CHP will reach about €10 million annually.

Bulgaria’s waste incinerator, which will be combined with energy-efficient technology GHP that generates electricity and captures heat, complies with the EU’s Waste Framework Directive (WFD) / Photo by: Max Pixel

 

OECD Environment Statistics

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, an intergovernmental economic organization with 36 member countries founded to stimulate economic progress and world trade, has defined municipal waste as the waste collected and treated by or for municipalities. It covers waste from households, such as bulky waste, similar waste from office buildings, commerce and trade, small businesses, institutions, and garden and yard waste. 

Countries with the highest municipal waste generated includes Germany (52,342 tonnes, in thousands), France (34,393), Turkey (34,173), United Kingdom (30, 911), Italy (29,583), Spain (21,530), Poland (11,969), Netherlands (8,787), Switzerland (5,992), Israel (5,435), Greece (5,415), Austria (5,018), Portugal (5,012), and Belgium (4,659).

Bulgaria’s Waste Management Economy

Since the country’s accession to the EU, the waste management economy has indeed come a long way despite continuously facing major challenges in the implementation of standards. In 2017, Bulgaria even generated about 120 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste and 65% of which was recycled. Its plastic packaging recycling rate is well above the average standard of 42% set by the EU. Another country that is above average is Slovenia, which achieved a 60% plastic packaging waste recycling rate. Croatia’s recycling rate of plastic packaging was at 37% while Romania was at 47% or equivalent to 349 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste.

Globally, waste generation rates are also increasing. In 2016, the world’s cities generated 2.01 billion tonnes of solid waste, according to the World Bank. That amounted to 0.74 kilograms of footprint per person every day. "Ecological footprint" means the impact of human activities on the environment.

Supporting the national program to reform waste management practices and initiatives is a great help to motivate waste reduction in any country. Citizen engagement in Bulgaria also plays an important role in tackling their country’s environmental challenges at the regional and national levels. Some Bulgarians have, for instance, initiated projects to raise awareness that plastic litter is just unacceptable.

Since the country’s accession to the EU, the waste management economy has indeed come a long way despite continuously facing major challenges in the implementation of standards / Photo by: Klearchos Kapoutsis via Flickr