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Sustainable Municipal Waste Management Process – Environmental Protection and

Profitable Public Investments

Abstract The “waste plague” and possible solutions to


“cure” it
Both the present waste management process in
Romania, which does not involve any selective The first strategic approach concerned with
municipal waste collecting activities or adequate achieving a sustainable waste management
storage facilities and EU requirements in what process in Romania provides the background for
concerns waste management (a significant splitting the waste management services market
reduction of stored municipal waste and an into different “slices of the pie”, the operational
increase of recycling strategies and action plans) activities being outsourced to different
represented the main reasons for choosing to companies, each of them being responsible for
debate a series of strategic approaches towards implementing the policy within their own area
the abovementioned subject herein. We focused of responsibility. The benefits implied by such a
both on the social and economic impact a way of solving the problem are obvious: a part
sustainable waste management process may of the services associated to waste management
have trying to be as clear as possible about the is easier to deal with in comparison to all of
costs and the benefits of implementing a them and the existence of more than one service
national strategic action plan in the area. providers imply a certain degree of economic
competition which eventually will lead to an
Introduction increase in the quality of services provided to
the stakeholders and better value for money.
Our approach is not about words, these being
mainly a political job, but about facts, about When the public authorities develop their own
possible strategies that can “cure” the “waste operational waste management system, they
plague” which has been one of the major have to invest both in the development of the
problems in Romania for the last 20 (twenty) collecting infrastructure (transporting vehicles,
years. The following pages are concerned with a containers etc) and in the human resources who
couple of strategic approaches we think might are supposed to deliver the activities implied by
solve the problem, each of them being analyzed the strategic delivery plan. The collecting,
both in what concerns its strengths and transport and processing costs are also paid by
weaknesses. the responsible public authority. The main
advantage of such an approach is the fact that waste management strategy might be a very
they practically have the entire control over the difficult thing to achieve. The risks associated to
delivery process. The main disadvantage is the the establishment of a long term agreement such
fact that, in the case of smaller communities, the as this one are very high, the winners of the
insufficient economic development of the area procurement process being likely to fail their
may generate poor return rates for the service share of meeting the agreed provisions enforced
provider, the huge initial investment the by means of the agreement discussed herein.
authority needs to make being economically Another problem would be that, once the
inefficient. services are outsourced, the prices might rise for
the private investors need to have good return
The solution of splitting the market into smaller, rates to achieve value to money. A direct
easier to deal with, shares has the advantage that consequence of the higher prices on the market
each of the companies will focus on their own would be higher taxes which need to be paid by
area, not interfering with each-other, the citizens the stakeholders, a tremendous loss of social and
being the only beneficiaries of this improved political capital being experienced by the
implementation of the strategic action plan. decision makers.
Another advantage which should be taken into
consideration in this particular case is the fact In what concerns the economic impact, by
that, once the services have been outsourced, the attracting private investments which need to
public designated authorities will have more produce high return rates in order to generate
time and resources to design better sustainable profit, the prices paid by the stakeholders for the
waste management strategies, not having to be municipal waste collecting services is expected
concerned with the delivery of the strategic to rise by at least 100%, this being a challenging
action plan anymore. The overall costs of the expense for their already shrank recession
operational aspects involved would also be budgets. On the other hand, by creating jobs and
smaller, due to the competition between the new sources of revenue for the local budget, the
legally established companies delivering waste investments would prove to be a medium term
management services. economic hit

A few aspects should also be mentioned in what The implementation of this strategy would
concerns the disadvantages of the outsourcing positively impact on all sustainable
solution discussed herein. At the moment, due to environmental issues. The municipal waste
the recession period we are experiencing, management strategy is not delivered properly at
finding adequate operators to compete for the the time, one of the consequence being the
delivering aspects implied by the sustainable pollution of the environment (water, air, soil)
associated with a series of landscaping Municipal waste separation and selection
problems. The delivery of a sustainable waste processes can be performed both automatically
management action plan performed by the more and manually as long as secure working
than one selected companies would assure conditions are provided to all employees.
environment protection and sustainable
development for the cities of Romania. At the
same time, an adequate waste management
system is necessary in order to assure quality to
life for the stakeholders, the quality of the
environment being linked to the health of
everyone inhabiting it.

By processing all municipal waste in such a way


as to achieve value to money, a sustainable
market for renewable resources is created, the
overall carbon footprint being positively “Image 1. The Romanian plague”
influenced. Another approach suggested herein
The effectiveness of the two abovementioned
focuses mainly in encouraging companies to use
processes, performed after the waste has been
all the resources that can be identified at the
collected, can be reasonable in the case of some
level of municipal waste in Romania, the focus
resources like metal, wood, plastic, these
being both on material and energy generating
materials being suitable to enter a process of
waste usage.
composting and packaging shortly after they

An integrated strategy which promotes have been separated. Nevertheless, this is not the

sustainable municipal waste processing impacts case of other materials like glass, which can be

both on the quantity of raw material that is being very fragmented, or paper, which can be

used to produce goods and on the price of the polluted with other substances or other types of

recycled end products, the latter being cheaper municipal waste. The economic value of these

due to the inferior costs of the material used to materials would never justify such an investment

produce them. The proposed strategy aims to in their processing.

promote a sustainable municipal waste recycling


One of the main advantages of this strategic
action plan, the processes of selection and
approach is the fact that, in comparison to on
separation of different waste types being
field municipal waste separation, there is no
performed only after they have been collected
need for special collecting containers or any
and brought to a central processing facility.
other facilities, the initial public expenditure The forecasts predict an increase of 0,8% a year
being, in this case, reasonable. in the case of the municipal waste produced, the
waste stored within special designated facilities
In what concerns the economic impact, this increasing correspondingly. The latter aspect
strategy involves high return rates for the could be improved by means of developing a
investments made during the first stages of the special selective collecting infrastructure which
process. The revenues, being further reinvested, could lead to a better processing of municipal
can help the community and regenerate the waste and to an increase of the recycled goods
obsolete existing municipal waste collecting entering the market.
infrastructure. The recycling process also
facilitates a further reduction of operational The implementation of a strategic action plan
costs by providing a solution to cheap municipal associated to the strategy under discussion
waste storage. On the other hand, if we are to implies an initial investment in the development
take into consideration the recession period of a selective collecting infrastructure which
experienced by the contemporary society, the requires special facilities (special containers and
prices paid for raw materials are more affordable bags). According to the provisions of Regulation
nowadays, the recycling businesses being on the 1121/2006 the specific designated colors used to
verge of collapsing for it cannot compete in identify the containers which are supposed to
these new open market conditions. store different types of waste are: White – white
glass; Green – colored glass; Blue – paper and
The implementation of the strategy herein would carton; Yellow – metal and plastic; Red –
definitely have a positive impact on the dangerous waste; Brown –
environment, the recycling process offering a lot biodegradable/compostable waste; Black –
of eco-friendly solutions. waste which is impossible to process/recycle. In
order for this approach to be a success, the initial
The joint efforts of the Romanian designated
infrastructural investment should be associated
authorities and the vast majority of the
to a publicity campaign, the latter aiming to
stakeholders are needed in order to achieve a
inform the stakeholders about the initiative, the
sustainable municipal waste management
process and all the specific information in
process. Selective municipal waste collecting is
relation to the strategy. In order for the
an affordable solution and implies waste storage
stakeholders to be receptive to the strategy
in special designated facilities in order to assure
presented herein, certain financial benefits, like
a cost effective recycling, this being another
tax reductions, could be provided.
solution we propose.
In conclusion, the benefits implied by making
the best of these strategies are: environmental
protection ( by selectively collecting the
municipal waste, reducing the improperly stored
waste and processing all renewable resources),
an increased level of community cohesion, all
stakeholders being active agents in the process
of implementing the strategy and developing
qualitative waste management infrastructure and
“Image 2. Selective collecting containers” services ( adequate containers, means of
transportation, deposit and processing facilities).
This strategy generates a positive environmental
Important quantities of energy (a television set
impact, the quality of life increasing
may function for three hours and a bulb up to 20
correspondently. As an EU member state,
hours only by using the energy obtained by
Romania has to reduce the quantity of municipal
recycling a single aluminum can), water and raw
waste stored in inadequate facilities, and this
materials will also be saved by developing a
selective collecting waste management strategy
specific recycled products market and the
is an efficient solution to the problem. The
municipal waste storage facilities will cover less
result of its implementation depends, as we have
surfaces of polluted land.
already mentioned before, on the mutual
partnership established between the local
authorities and the stakeholders.