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10 Jan 2022

Madalin Necsutu, BalkanInsight

Romania: Government adopts new law restricting waste imports to tackle pollution

"Romania Imposes Limits on Imported Wastes to Tackle Pollution", 20 Dec 2021

Romania has limited the number of border crossing points through which recyclable waste can be broughg into the country to 15, and has adopted a decision to combat the illegal import of waste. “Romania cannot be Europe’s landfill,” Environment Minister Tanczos Barna said.

Barna added that as European legislation currently does not allow member states to refuse imported waste, Romania needed to adopt its own normative act to regulate such activities.

“Tracing these transports from the border to the place of recycling will be mandatory. The quantities of waste entering the country will also be correlated with the recycling capacity of the companies,” he added.

An environmental activist, Octavian Berceanu, told BIRN that the new measures were good, but still insufficient, as the 15 designated points are the same points where such waste is usually introduced, so not much would change.

“These checking points must be equipped with scanning devices, and the number of environmental commissioners must be tripled. Otherwise, Romania could be sued by these companies,” Berceanu told BIRN...

According to the act, the 15 authorised crossing points for waste will be established by a joint order of the Environment and Interior Ministers.

An Environmental Fund will be administered by an institution that will monitor the incoming quantities of waste, and ensure that they match the recycling capacity of the companies that the waste should reach, also making available to users a free-of-charge computer system to ensure traceability.

This will help to monitor and verify the correctness of transactions of waste.

“We noticed an increasing trend of illegal waste shipments identified in the Romanian border crossing points and an increased pressure on the borders,” the environmental protection agency, ANPM, said.

In recent years, Romania and Bulgaria have become essential destinations for waste from Western Europe after China closed its doors in 2018 to such imports.

Much of the waste is brought to villages around Bucharest and burned illegally, causing air pollution, as the central and local authorities often look the other way.