Trend 2018

Material amendments to waste management 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.

The purpose of this recent piece of legislation is to update waste management procedures in Romania and to further transpose the European legislation in this area, as it partially implements 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 is the result of non-fulfilment of the applicable conditionality on waste.

The changes brought by Emergency Ordinance no. 74/2018 aim to improve the overall waste management system, starting from separately collecting waste at the generating source, sorting, recycling and further disposal. To this end, the most widely used economic tools at European and international level taken by Emergency Ordinance no. 74/2018 are: (i) “pay for entire generated waste” principle (in Romanian: “plateste pentru cat arunci”), (ii) the “extended liability of the producer”, and (iii) the “circular economy” principle that replaces the “deposit fee”.
To implement these economic tools, 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 scheme and a guarantee scheme for refunds or for reusable packaging.

A proper implementation of “pay for entire generated waste” economic tool (in Romanian: “plateste pentru cat arunci”) should consider several parameters, such as: (i) volume, (ii) collection frequency, (iii) weight, and (iv) customized collection bags.

In order to further 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 waste production of 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 which will be in charge of supervising extended producer liability and will also be responsible for the authorization of certain compliance measures for extended producer liability and implementation thereof.

As one may note, Emergency Ordinance no. 74/2018 serves as a framework, limited to stating some general rules. Most of the amendments will be detailed and implemented through secondary legislation, which should be drafted by the Environmental authorities within certain deadlines established for this year and the following.

Apart from bringing novelties to waste management procedures in Romania, Emergency Ordinance no. 74/2018 also seems to clarify various areas of old waste management legislation that have proven problematic in Romania’s relationship with the European Union and EU institutions.

It will be interesting to observe how both private and public entities will receive and adapt to these changes in the following years.

Stratulat Albulescu - Attorneys at law