Waste Network for sustainable solid waste management planning and promotion of integrated decision tools in the Balkan Region.
01/01/2009 - 31/12/2011
The Balkan Region includes Member states, such as Greece and Slovenia, recently accession countries, such us Romania and Bulgaria, and non-European member states, such as Albania and FYROM. Waste management in Balkan Countries is dominated by the social and geographical characteristic of the area and is characterized with poor waste infrastructure in comparison to central Europe. The Waste management status in the Balkan Region has certain characteristics that emphasize the need to promote sustainable solid waste management in the area. In particular, the developing economies of the Balkan countries result in an increasing waste generation that contradicts with EU Policy on waste prevention and recycling. It should be stated that disposal of solid waste to landfills is the prevailing method in the Balkan Region and treatment activities shall be established. Moreover there is lack of information regarding waste management and poor institutional capacity, in comparison to central Europe. The BalkWaste Project aims to support the national competent authorities in implementing sustainable waste management planning, through the development of tools and guidelines. Initially the waste management status within the four participating countries was examined and evaluated. Two regions from Romania and Bulgaria were chosen as case study regions, for the implementation of innovative tools such as the Decision Support Tool for integrated waste planning. Additionally a Balkan Network was developed, in order to maximize information exchange and promote collaboration between Balkan countries, regarding waste issues. The Balkan Network will be a web-based platform that will monitor waste performance through benchmarking indicators and increase awareness and collaboration within the Balkan Countries. The project aimed at the dissemination of the knowledge, deriving from the implementation of the EU waste strategy and policy in Member states to the whole Balkan Region, using Romania and Bulgaria as case studies for the implementation of integrated waste management planning. Beneficiaries from 4 Balkan Countries (Greece, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Romania) co-operated in order to develop decision support tools, that can incorporate EU policy on waste and recycling and can be easily implemented by Competent Authorities.
- Aiding accession countries (Romania and Bulgaria) incorporate and implement EU waste management and natural resources protection policy
- Establishment of a waste network for the Knowledge exchange within the Balkan Region
- Establishment of monitoring procedure regarding waste management efficiency and Infrastructures
- Provision of technical support to local entities that are responsible for waste management Planning and implementation
- Demonstration of innovative decision support tools
- Increase awareness in waste management aspects
- Promote collaboration among waste relevant stakeholders within the Balkan Region
- Ensure the sustainable character of a waste management monitoring procedure and its future expansion
- Supplement E.U. officially established monitoring procedures
Results and environmental benefits: The utilization of project deliverables and outputs not only put the foundations for a more efficient waste management in Balkan region with direct positive effects in sustainable development. In addition, EU priorities on waste management, defined in the Thematic Strategy for Recycling and Waste Prevention, are demonstrated in a Region where waste generation is constantly increasing. Provision of technical support and demonstration of innovative tools for sustainable waste management is in line with EU strategy and has significant importance due to the poor institutional capacity of the area. The project ensures the accession future of Romania and Bulgaria, in terms of Solid Waste management and also helps other non-EU countries incorporate policies and measures for sustainable waste management. In particular, the DSS tool comprises all the necessary criteria and focuses on the recovery of secondary materials in the Balkan Market and waste infrastructure. Because of the economic, environmental, technical and social criteria included, the software also can be used by the municipalities that are trying to improve their own waste management system. The innovative DSS software tool developed is tailored to the needs of the local entities and also incorporated the EU waste policy and future priorities. The municipal solid waste management issue is a broad but complex subject especially when investigated at country level. The adoption of sustainable practices in solid waste management is an important step towards environmental protection and conservation of natural resources. Taking into account that the tool has a special part dedicated to the environmental impact and provide quantified data allow to the decision maker to choose the best alternative. Concerning the direct impact, it has to be mentioned that many authorities had already drafted their waste management plans before the project initiation (1/1/2009) or during the first year of the project implementation. Those master plans took into consideration the targets set in the Landfill and Packaging Directives, since they were delivered some years ago. However, the BALKWASTE project deliverables on sustainable waste management and the DSS tool are oriented in the implementation of the Waste Framework Directive Provisions which have recently or have not yet been implemented in the national legislation of the Balkan Countries. This constitutes a big contribution of the BALKWASTE project, since the 2008/98/EC targets at 50% recycling until 2020. The DSS Tool and the training sessions have been an added value, as they have been already used for the validation of the current practices and will be used for the future planning by the stakeholders, as clearly expressed during the training sessions. By use of the DSS tool competent authorities are able to compare and evaluate the environmental and other benefits from different waste management scenarios. Especially for the case study regions selected waste management plans have been validated / assessed through the implementation of the DSS tool.
The benefits of an effective waste management system can be summarized as follows:
- Health benefits
- Ecosystem benefits
- Social benefits
- Wider economic benefits
Waste management strategy and the level of sustainability contained in it, is determined by the relevant authorities. The Project aims to mobilize those authorities by providing to them all the necessary information concerning the EU environmental policy and technical restrictions/solution into the form of a software decision support tool. As this approach has been disseminated to many stakeholders, then the impact is directly or indirectly translated into waste management infrastructure, which will reduce the number of uncontrolled landfills and promote sustainable waste management. There are several authorities that have been inspired by the project to adopt the project’s approach to conservation/environmental issue in question. This can be verified by the support letters obtained by some of those authorities and have been submitted with the project reports. The wider economic benefits of reducing and utilizing solid waste include:
- reduced costs
- increased revenue from additional yield and improved efficiencies
- increased revenue from by-products recovered from what would otherwise be solid waste
It is important to mention that, although the DSS tool focuses mainly on Balkan countries, it can scale to any country by functionality expansion to different geographical areas, having different waste characteristics, thus resulting in a generic tool for supporting decision-making in waste management planning. Furthermore, it should be mentioned that the existing models resulted from scientific work or suggested by commercial software packages usually implement one part of the aforementioned tasks. Whereas, other models, which comprise of the above parts, lack of user interface and perform the direct use of commercial software packages with lack of flexibility and adaptability. Specially, the graphical user interface of the DSS tool was designed so that the process of waste management planning can be an interactive and simple process between user and software tool. There are many guidelines and auto correction processes for the input data inserted by user so that the valid performance of the tool can be provided. Also, it should be stressed that the DSS tool is free software and consequently, no commercial software package is required in order to apply it. In conclusion, the innovation and added value of the DSS tool can be directly derived from the very positive feedback from the training sessions performed in the case study countries, such as Bulgaria and Romania, where participants expressed their opinion that it was the first software product regarding the holistic approach in Waste Management to be used for planning, control and training purposes.