Dragos Calugaru, General Manager of ECOTIC, was interviewed by Ecologic Magazine. The interview can be read inside issue no.125 of the magazine.
ecological: You took part in a public consultation at the Environment Fund Administration. What were the discussions about and what were the conclusions?
Dragos Calugaru, General Manager of ECOTIC: The meeting was held on August 5th and as far as I know only those who had submitted a written standpoint on the situation being discussed there were invited. Four collective organizations in the field of WEEE were present, alongside two organizations from the waste battery field, representatives of two producers and representatives of the Foreign Investors Council; public authorities had representatives from the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Forrest, the National Environment Guard and of course the Environment Fund Administration, including its President, Mr. Adrian Gearap.
EFA’s President proposed a discussion focused on the specific issues that this market faces and this is how discussions unfolded. There were talks on the changes to Order 196 regarding EFA; these changes brig about some interesting figures for WEEE and battery waste targets, namely a 2lei / kg penalty on missed targets. We spoke for the need to fundamentally value this; we feel this amount of 2 lei is not justified and it has an impact that is yet to be evaluated.
ecological: At one point the target was 4 kilograms of WEEE per inhabitant. What is the current target for WEEE?
Dragos Calugaru, General Manager of ECOTIC: The current target for producers, according to the new EGO 5/2015 is 40% of what producers market, as an average for the previous three years. This target is valid for 2016 as well. This means that this penalty would become valid starting with 2017. And this also stands for battery waste, where the collection target is 45% of the average marketed goods for the previous 3 years.
ecological: What were the problems that affected your kind of organization and you communicated to the environment authorities?
Dragos Calugaru, General Manager of ECOTIC: We spoke about the fact that there is no concept of "enforcement" in Romania, as opposed to what happens in Western Europe, that local authorities have no involvement and that the largest part of scrap collectors does not undergo any kind of control. Official reports show 30,000-35,000 tons of collected WEEE, but we question this reported quantity.
It would be interesting to look ahead and ask ourselves how the market would look like in 2021 when targets will go as high as 65% or 85% of what will be marketed.
If EFA’s main intention is to clarify the field of WEEE and battery waste, especially with regard to producers and collective organizations - and we think this intention is very good - then the measures that need to be implemented should go even further.
We therefore suggested that EFA should be involved in battling parallel WEEE trade - namely the scrap flows - with the goal of bringing to the surface huge quantities of WEEE that do not go through proper treatment for decontamination. Without proper action in this direction, we will never reach our targets. And three years from now, collective organizations may not even exist anymore. The question is will we be able to reach our national targets without the support of these organizations? I believe that the only way producers can reach the 2021 targets is through the collective organizations and in mandatory cooperation with state institutions.
EFA has the necessary competencies and it can fight both those who do not report as producers and those who deal with WEEE and do not respect the law.
At the same time, EFA - as they declared - can really help with the process of raising public awareness. We need to first create a real and solid collecting infrastructure with the help of local authorities and only then can we really have an impact with awareness campaigns. We are all involved, more or less, in this kind of actions and their effect is always positive.
ecological: What is the level of guarantees and penalties proposed by the EFA? And why would an importer adhere to an association if it would be cheaper to pay the EFA?
Dragos Calugaru, General Manager of ECOTIC: At present, those who market electrical equipment individually are obliged to deposit guarantees at the EFA in order to warrant the financing of the subsequent waste, but this does not really happen from what I know. The amount of 2 lei / kg is for the missed targets and should be paid by the producer or the collective organization.
If the guarantee order becomes valid, it won't be convenient to pay for the guarantee and then pay the 2 lei of penalty. Moreover, as an individual producer, you need to make an operational plan that needs the inter-ministry commission's approval and the yearly review.
Still, if this becomes a large phenomenon, I wonder how many battery waste containers we will see in the territory. We will probably end up with a Hungarian-like system where the state has the monopoly and things are not really moving.
I think the discussion was very interesting and we are expecting a draft that takes our opinions into account. We believe things need to change one way or another and this order was no surprise to me precisely because if we don’t change anything in the way things have happened before, at least in the field of WEEE and battery waste, we will not get very far. If we want different results, we need to start doing things differently.
ecological: What is the current situation of the electronics market?
Dragos Calugaru, General Manager of ECOTIC: If we talk about our producers, we notice things are going better. Romania is going better. But if we are talking about waste, what we collect in our system is not enough and it is so difficult to collect for the reasons I previously mentioned. We are all waiting for a "revolution" in waste management if we what to reach our 2020 targets for separate collection.