Amendments to Waste Legislation
Emergency Ordinance no. 74/2018 amending and supplementing Law no. 211/2011 on treatment of waste, Law no. 249/2015 on the management of packaging and packaging waste and Government Emergency Ordinance no. 196/2005 on the Environmental Fund (“Emergency Ordinance no. 74/2018”) has brought significant changes to waste management legislation.
Its purpose is to update Romanian waste management procedures and to further enact European legislation in this area by partially implementing two important EU Directives, published in 2018 that regulate waste management.
Emergency Ordinance no. 74/2018 was passed after Romanian authorities received a letter from the European Commission on the pre-suspension procedure of intermediary payments from the Cohesion Fund within axis 3 – development of environment infrastructure under conditions of efficient resource management. The pre-suspension procedure results from the non-fulfilment of the applicable conditions regarding waste management.
The changes brought about by Emergency Ordinance no. 74/2018 aim to improve the overall waste management system starting with separately collecting waste at the source, sorting, recycling and further disposal. To this end, the most widely used economic principles at European and international level and adopted by Emergency Ordinance no. 74/2018 are: (i) the “pay for entire generated waste” principle (in Romanian: “plateste pentru cat arunci”) (ii) the “extended liability of the producer” principle, and (iii) the “circular economy” principle that replaces the “deposit fee”.
To implement these approaches, Emergency Ordinance no. 74/2018 proposes the following: discouragement of waste disposal through storage; payment schemes based on the amount of waste generated; extended producer liability schemes; and a guarantee scheme for refunds or reusable packaging.
A proper implementation of the “pay for entire generated waste” principle (in Romanian: “plateste pentru cat arunci”) must cover issues such as: (i) volume; (ii) collection frequency; (iii) weight; and (iv) customised collection bags.
To properly support the “circular economy” principle, measures should be introduced for the protection of the environment and human health. Such measures should be specifically designed to prevent or mitigate the overall negative impact of waste generation and management, and to improve the efficient use of resources. To begin the transition towards a “circular economy”, reducing the waste produced by packaging should be encouraged, as well as reusing and recycling existing packaging.
In addition to the conditions imposed on producers, and other organisations, from the “waste management chain” (e.g., having financial and operational resources to meet their obligations under the extended liability of producers, and clearly specifying the types of waste generated), Emergency Ordinance no. 74/2018 also focuses on the “institutional side”. The Ministry of Environment will establish a Commission that will be in charge of supervising extended producer liability, and will also be responsible for the authorisation of certain compliance measures regarding extended producer liability and its implementation.
It should be noted that Emergency Ordinance no. 74/2018 only serves as a framework and is limited to stating some general rules. Most of the amendments will be detailed and implemented through secondary legislation, which will be drafted by the relevant environmental authorities within certain deadlines established for this year and next.
Apart from bringing new approaches to waste management procedures in Romania, Emergency Ordinance no. 74/2018 also seems to clarify various areas of the old waste management legislation, that have proven problematic in Romania’s relationship with the EU and its institutions.
It will be interesting to see how both private and public entities receive and adapt to these changes in the coming years.