UN: 'Bulgaria Has Reduced Household Waste, Air Pollution Considerably'
The 3rd Environmental Performance Review (EPR) of Bulgaria takes stock of progress made by Bulgaria in the management of its environment since it was peer reviewed for the second time in 2000. It covers issues of specific importance to the country related to legal and policymaking frameworks, the financing of environmental expenditures, greening the economy, air protection, water and waste management and biodiversity conservation. The review further provides a substantive and policy analysis of the country’s climate change adaptation and mitigation measures and its participation in international mechanisms. It also examines the efforts of Bulgaria to integrate environmental considerations in its policies in the energy sector.
''The Committee and the ECE secretariat are grateful to the Government of Bulgaria and its experts who worked with the international experts and contributed their knowledge and assistance'' says the review of the UN.
Bulgaria has reduced household waste generation considerably in recent years, the Ministry of Environment and Water said, quoting a United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) report. This is the Third Environmental Performance Review of Bulgaria covering the period 2007-2015. The aim was to assess the performance following the second review in 1999-2000.
According to the performance review, the population already covered amounts to 99.6%.
Bulgaria has made progress in the use of economic mechanisms for pollution management, but the polluter-pays principle is applied only partially. A water pollution tax has been introduced, but it is not differentiated according to the type and characteristics of pollutants. Moreover, the uniform charge rates are very low, which raises doubts about their environmental effectiveness. The main economic instrument for pollution management continues to be sanctions for exceeding established threshold values for the quantity of air, water and soil pollutants discharged into the environment.
This was, however, a blunt instrument for many years, given that the low rates of fines provided little, if any, incentives for changes in the behaviour of polluters. In the area of waste management, Bulgaria applies enhanced producer responsibility (EPR) schemes, which aim at internalizing environmental externalities. These schemes are associated with quantitative recovery and recycling targets and a landfill tax. There is little transparency as regards the recovery fees charged by each of the recovery organizations and competition among the organizations in the market for a given product group is not regulated. There is also no information on the extent to which EPR schemes cover the costs related to the management of these waste streams.
Biodiversity is another criterion by which Bulgaria has achieved high marks. In ten years the number of protected areas has increased by 43% compared to 2004, a result recorded in 2014.
Remarkable progress has been registered in the use of renewable energy sources, whose share in 2012 stood at 16.3%, reaching the 2020 target of no less than 16%.
According to the UN, the Ministry of Environment and Water is the main authority in charge of funding for green economy initiatives through the OP “Environment” and its two subordinated project financing institutions, the Enterprise for Management of Environmental Protection Activities and the National Trust Eco Fund. The Enterprise support for green initiatives in the period 2003–2015 amounted to more than 2,600 contracts worth over BGN 6 million.
The Fund has implemented four major programmes to promote green initiatives since 2007.
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