Statement of BACI on the Draft Decision restricting waste imports with code 19 12 12

This statement to the Public Consultation Portal of the Council of ministers and the Ministry of environment and water is with regard to the Draft Decision of the Council of Ministers on the restriction of the import of waste with code 19 12 12, published on the Public Consultation Portal. Pursuant to Art. 66, Para. 1 and 3 of the Administrative Procedure Code, the Ministry of Environment and Water shall notify interested parties of the commencement of proceedings pursuant to Art. 98, para. 3 of the Waste Management Act for the adoption of a Decision of the Council of Ministers on restriction of import, respectively the introduction of waste with code 19 12 12 – other waste (including mixtures of materials) from mechanical treatment of waste, other than those mentioned in 19 12 11.

BACI wishes to express its categorical opinion and position that the submitted draft Decision of the Council of Ministers is not motivated within the meaning of Art. 98, para. 3 of the WMA and is unjustified, and gives the following reasons and considerations:

1.1. The recycling of modified fuels with code 19 12 12 and other combustible waste is a major means by which cement factories in the country are able to ensure compliance with the legislation and related restrictions, as well as reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in connection with climate change mitigation and reduction of the carbon footprint of production activities.
1.2. The methods and means for co-incineration of waste are legally established, and also comply with the best available technologies for the production of clinker and cement and the recycling of waste by incineration. The installations possess valid Complex permits for this activity, issued in accordance with Chapter Seven of the Environmental Protection Act, in which the provisions of the European legislation are transposed.
1.3. The facilities for the recycling of modified fuels with code 19 12 12 and other combustible waste do not pollute the environment, because they are designed and built in such a way as to ensure an effective process of recycling by incineration, in which no emissions of harmful substances are emitted in excess of the current standards, norms and restrictions in the country.
1.4. Within the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, waste with code 19 12 12 generated by the existing separation and pre-treatment plants and other combustible waste is of a quality (low calorific value, high humidity and high content of non-combustible fraction) and particulate size which does not correspond to that required for cement factory kilns. For this reason cement plants, even those using local combustible waste, can only use such waste when mixed with imported high quality SRF/RDF (or other similar waste with code 19 12) with an appropriate particulate size and calorific value. Termination of the importation of high-quality combustible waste with code 19 12 12 will result in cement plants not being able to incinerate any amount of local combustible waste. This is turn will result in the impossibility of fulfilling the hierarchy and achieving waste management objectives, in particular – reducing the quantities for disposal in landfill.
The cement factories in Bulgaria have been undertaking the cross-border transportation and import of combustible waste, incl. with code 19 12 12, since 2008 in full compliance with the requirements of the environmental legislation of the EU and Bulgaria, as well as the Basel Convention. Over this period of more than 12 years, the cross-border transportation and import of combustible waste has supported the recycling by incineration of hundreds of thousands of tons of waste generated in Bulgaria by separated municipal waste collection from a number of municipalities such as Sofia, Varna, Vratsa, Mezdra, Harmanli, Haskovo, Plovdiv, Yambol, Kazanlak, Gabrovo, Sevlievo, Targovishte and others.
1.5. Such a restriction of imports will lead to a breach of the regulations of European waste legislation. It will also lead to a contradiction with the policies of European legislation on limiting climate change and the European legislation on waste, including:

  • A breach of one of the fundamental principles of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, namely the free movement of goods;
  • It will lead to a contradiction with European climate change limitation policies and legislation, pursuant to which the use of 19 12 12 and other combustible waste has a significantly lower emission factor than traditional fuels: coal, petrocox, etc.;
  • This will also lead to a breach of long-term contracts and agreements between producers of high-quality combustible waste outside the country, as well as importers and consumers of the product, which in turn will result in significant financial losses for all parties in the chain;
  • It will lead to a breach/restriction/termination of the scope of application of the effective and valid permits issued pursuant to the Environmental Protection Act (Complex Permits) and decisions taken in accordance with the Waste Management Act (Decisions pursuant to Art. 97, para. 2, items 1 and 2 of the Act). The annual report thereof demonstrates that environmental legislation has not been breached as a result of waste recovery, but rather that the companies and plants have demonstrated a progressive reduction of their carbon footprint, thanks to the use of waste. This shows once again the environmental but also social contribution of this activity, which leads to a reduction in the amount of waste being disposed of.
1.6. On 23.06.2021 BACI held a meeting in the building of the MoEW with representatives of the MoEW and a representative of the NAMRB (National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria) specifically on the matter of imports of combustible waste in Bulgaria. This meeting sets out the specific measures and steps which have been taken to increase the quality of the modified fuels from waste produced in Bulgaria, and which the members of the association are actively implementing. BACI unequivocally stated at the meeting that Bulgarian combustible waste has always been and will always be a priority for recycling in BACI members’ factories, on the condition that such waste fulfils the minimum required technical quality and property characteristics and is produced by installations suitable for the production of alternative fuels.

In addition to the above, the Bulgarian Association of the Cement Industry would be open to hold a meeting with the Minister of Environment and Water and the Prime Minister, if necessary, to present our position on the topic and to hold a discussion.