The residents of Varna and the district have generated almost 1/3 more waste in just one year, according to statistics for 2021 compared to 2020. The bulk, 176 000 tonnes, is sent for pre-treatment. This means that it is separated manually or by machine into those that become recyclables and others that are landfilled. For this last year and last year alone, the Municipality of Varna paid over BGN 17 million. Separately, only for the collection and removal of household waste, the citizens of Varna pay BGN 14.5 million. The amount is slightly more than the revenue from the garbage tax collected last year – 31 million BGN, but again it is covered from our pocket.
Probably due to the slightly higher than the national average standard of living, in Varna region a resident generates 512 kg of garbage per year, compared to the national average of 455 kg.
How we manage recycling
In the coloured containers in the territory of Varna municipality 1463 tonnes of waste were collected last year. Of these, 1220 tonnes were recyclable. This amounts to about 4 kg per person per year with 512 kg of total waste generated. But this is not the most striking figure. Statistics show that a resident of Varna throws away almost 3 times less recyclable waste than a resident of Beloslav, who accounts for 12 kg/year.
Appropriate conditions for citizens to collect and deliver waste separately is a prerequisite for tackling the problem of the growing amount of waste, experts say.
In addition to the well-known coloured containers, many major European capitals from Amsterdam and Paris to Prague and Ljubljana have opted for underground waste containers. They are not as common here, although their benefits are many and this may be one solution to speed up recycling – aesthetically pleasing, beautiful and convenient containers, and the collected packaging is not strewn on the streets.
According to some experts, these containers are an expensive investment and are suitable for central areas of densely populated or touristic cities, so that collection sites are easier to keep clean and welcoming. They are also more cumbersome and expensive to service.
In the maritime capital, the third largest city in the country, there is no underground waste collection system; residents of Varna collect packaging in above-ground coloured containers. However, there is a municipality in the district that has already introduced the innovative method and it is in its second year of operation.
Investment in ecology
We checked how the separate waste collection is going in Beloslav municipality. Apart from reporting three times more recyclable rubbish collected per inhabitant compared to Varna, they try to refute the finding that it is an expensive investment, suitable only for big tourist cities.
The project was financed with nearly 400 000 BGN under an operational programme and is already bearing fruit. This is the first municipality in Varna region where the modern system is working. Mayor Diyan Ivanov shared with EcoVarna its advantages and how it is slowly but surely changing the appearance of the town.
The aim of the project is to reduce the amount of landfilled waste and increase that of recycled waste, to improve the waste collection system, and to encourage citizens to use the coloured containers for the collection of paper, plastics, metal and glass.
A set of three containers in different colours has been placed at 11 locations in the town. The blue ones are for paper and cardboard, the green ones for glass and the yellow ones for plastic and metal. Special bins have been built for this purpose, consisting of an above-ground and an underground unit. A special superstructure was made for lifting and unloading.
In fact, what we do not see underground are huge sacks with a capacity of 1.5 cubic meters, which is as much as three times that of the used “Beaver” type. They are equipped with a mechanism to connect and open the bottom without any liquid leaking from the garbage into the inside of the container or into the outside environment during unloading. The location of the pads is designed so as not to interfere with pedestrian flow or affect street right-of-ways.
“The citizens are very strict, the interest is great, the initiative has already saved a lot of money for both the municipality and the people,” said the Mayor of Beloslav Municipality Deyan Ivanov. We will save this amount with the separate collection. We collect about 100 tonnes a year,” Ivanov added.
The municipality’s management estimates that the investment will pay for itself in about four years, two of which have already passed. This will happen because of the much lower price paid to the recycling company for these 100 tonnes per year compared to the landfill. The fact that the system is manned by a municipal truck and employees rather than an outside company also helps to reduce the cost. The raw material is transported to a specialized company and the pay is several times less. If we were to dispose of these packages in the landfill, apart from the environmental damage, we would pay three times more, says Diyan Ivanov.
Campaigns, cameras, acts…
The conscientious disposal of waste in the right places is also stimulated by nearly 100 cameras that keep watch over cleanliness and crime in Beloslav. We have issued many acts to individuals, assures the mayor.
Another small municipality that has introduced the underground method is Tryavna, where 1002 tonnes per year are collected in six underground landfills, but this includes household waste. The plant has four separate containers for separate collection of the main groups of household waste. In addition to the familiar yellow, green and blue containers for mixed waste, there are also brown containers for organic waste such as bread, bakery products, leaves, grass, branches, coffee and tea grounds, fruit and vegetables, stones and nuts.
“The system works very well, at the beginning everyone was against these containers, they seemed unreal and difficult to use. When we installed them and people saw how the system worked, their attitude changed and now they themselves want to have them in other places in the city, Steli Boneva from the Tryavna municipality told EcoVarna. Moreover, the innovation draws attention to the ecological practice, although it collects less recyclable waste than the coloured above-ground containers, which collect many times more.