Romania, suffocated by garbage. We import 7 times more waste than in previous years.

This year, 7 times more waste arrived in Romania than in 2020, according to the data received from the Coast Guard, respectively from the Constanța Environmental Guard. It is about non-compliant waste, discovered by the authorities in both river and sea and road transport. Although in the EU the transfer of waste for recovery is legally allowed, this is about waste that cannot be recovered. And the country of origin is not necessarily from Europe.

If after the controls carried out in 2020 the Coast Guard discovered 40 containers totaling 479 tons of waste, in 2021 only in the first half of the year were found 96 containers with 2006 tons of waste, 8 trucks with 189 tons and 2 barges engine with 1,061 tons. The amount of 3256 tons is 6.7 times higher than the catches of the previous year. Countries where the shipments came from: Germany, Bulgaria, UK, China, Norway, Portugal, the Netherlands, Israel, Hong Kong and Canada.

From the data of the Constanța Environmental Guard, in 2018 no transport of non-compliant waste was found. In 2019, 2 containers with 40 tons were found, and in 2020 32 containers with 640 tons of waste exported to Romania from many other countries. In the first 6 months of 2021 alone, environmental commissioners discovered 104 containers loaded with 2,080 tons of waste. To these were added 3 road complexes and 5 trains. Top 3 countries of origin: Germany, Bulgaria, Slovenia.

The USRPLUS MEP, Vlad Gheorghe, who requested the data from the mentioned institutions, explains why Romania is such an attractive destination for waste.

“Waste neutralization costs up to 500 euros per tonne in Western Europe. In our country, the same amount costs 50 euros. In short, illegal waste trafficking is very profitable. It is also very easy to cross garbage across Romanian borders. Only last year, a high-performance scanning system was installed in the Port of Constanța and Constanța-Sud, through the European Cargoscan program.”

Recently, the head of the Environmental Guard, Octavian Berceanu, announced that an investment program with a European component for mobile scanners is underway at the relevant Ministry. Those scanners could quickly detect such illegal shipments.

The exponential increase in the amount of garbage discovered by the relevant authorities has several causes.

“First of all, the pandemic, which turned upside down natural functioning of all institutions. It made the focus much more on fighting Covid19 than on criminal phenomena. Secondly, everything related to environmental crimes, from illegal deforestation to poaching and trafficking in protected species, from deliberate water and air pollution to waste trafficking, has been on an upward trend in recent years worldwide. There is a lot of money earned very easily. It is estimated that globally, all these environmental crimes costs us over 285 billion dollars “, underlines the MEP Vlad Gheorghe

Vlad Gheorghe is the one who publicly signaled numerous illegal landfills in Olt County. And the Environmental Guard repeatedly fines local authorities for failing to protect human health and the environment by failing to comply with waste legislation.

Mihaela Safta, USRPLUS local councilor in Corabia, submitted a draft decision by which the fines will no longer be paid by the City Hall, but directly by the responsible person.

“Corabia City Hall collects money from citizens for waste collection and recycling. But nothing changes with that. We have the same landfills for which the Environmental Guard has so far given several warnings and two fines amounting to 40,000 and 25,000 lei respectively to Corabia City Hall. Obviously, not  citizens should pay them, but those who do not find the legal solutions to neutralize waste according to the law and their duties from the job description”, says the counselor.

However, the project was rejected by vote in the Corabia Local Council.

European solutions

At European level, things are very clear. There is the European Green Pact with the goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The European Parliament voted on 24 June the European Climate Law. And the European regions have at their disposal 100 billion through the Mechanism for a Fair Transition to make all the necessary investments for a green economy. Including reducing pollution in all its forms.

“Climate change and environmental degradation are a threat we can no longer ignore. Tornadoes in the Czech Republic, floods in Romania, over 30 degrees plus in Finland. All these destructive events for the environment and for people can still be counteracted if we do the right thing. And the selective collection, recycling, correct storage of waste can make the difference “, underlines the USRPLUS MEP, Vlad Gheorghe.

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