By: Alina Güler
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Environmental Technologies in Search of a Law
The transition to a circular economy revolves around integrated development projects which require the adoption of innovative environmental technologies to ensure clean agriculture and sustainable waste management.
Unfortunately, the burden falls on the private business sector to do the pioneering work in terms of the concept of transition to the circular economy, without real support from the authorities.
This article focuses on one specific area – the management of manure, sewage sludge and other compostable agricultural waste. Organic waste can account for 45-60% of the total waste generate at county level. In most cases, this so-called “non-hazardous” waste ends up in landfills, where it generates methane, a gas 20 times more dangerous than carbon dioxide. What is worse, is that waste generators repeatedly spread this waste on agricultural lands to avoid paying waste storage and operating fees. The generators of such waste are misleading the owners of agricultural lands into accepting this waste as organic fertilizer. As these wastes contain heavy metals and pathogens, they end up in contaminating and destroying the fertile layer of soil on which they are disposed of.
Authorities are well aware of these practices, but they chose to ignore them because, in the absence of an infringement procedure, they are unable to implement efficient measures to eradicate land contamination and efficiently manage waste, although solutions do exist.
The environmental technologies, in particular composting facilities, offer such a solution. Composting is a controlled, predominantly aerobic decomposition process of biodegradable materials that allows the generation of temperatures suitable for the growth of thermophilic bacteria as a result of heat production in the biological process. The resulting compost can be used as a natural fertilizer. An anaerobic digestion facility is the installation in which treatment processes take place in the absence of air (anaerobic) and are used to produce biogas from organic matter (biomass).
The Recovery and Resilience Plan for Romania (RRPR), Pillar 1 (“Green Transition”), Component C3 (“Waste Management”) includes the section titled Investment 2. Development of infrastructure for the management of manure and other compostable agricultural waste. The investment is intended for the development of manure collecting and recovery systems. The investment mainly consists of setting up integrated communal manure recovery systems, composting stations and compost management equipment for large farm communities and biogas systems, as well as the purchase of agricultural compost management equipment. The proposed investments are aimed at upgrading infrastructure, reducing ammonia and methane emissions and reducing nitrate pollution. As a result of this investment, 254 integrated compostable agricultural waste collection systems could be in place and operational by 30 June 2026.
It is therefore clear that although technical and financial solutions exist, they are nipped in the bud by the indifference of the Romanian legislator, who fails, for who knows what reasons, to finally come up with a complete set of laws applicable to composting.
Law No 181/2020 on the management of compostable non-hazardous waste did not become effective until 20 February 2021 and the rules for its application, long forgotten in the bottom drawer of a public officer, are still to be issued.
In the absence of the implementing rules, the composting process is not truly regulated. In particular, such absence hinders compost recovery, which requires clear procedures for checking and classifying the results of composting by specialised laboratories. In the absence of implementing rules, the law remains a form without substance, and the private sector, which expects the benefits of these technologies, must wait for the legislative vacuum to be filled.
No implementing rules, no RRPR funds.
More than three years have elapsed since the law was drafted and there are three more years to go before the component included in the RRPR is completed. We estimate that the implementing rules, which are themselves being composted in the white-collar system, will be generated as compost on 30 June 2026.
Article published on GreenReport.ro