For me the costs – for you the profit, or how Smolyan is (not) managing its waste

Municipality Smolyan has built with a credit the separation waste disposal facility to save money from a garbage fee. Now the municipality spends more to support it, but still does not meet the requirements of the law.

Photo: Zarko Marinov

When approving the National Waste Management Plan, the government aims to recycle at least 40% of household waste from paper, cardboard, plastic, metals by January 1, 2018, and by January 1, 2020 this percentage should reach 50%. In order to motivate municipalities to pursue this goal, the state includes the well-known practice – with the carrot and the stick.

“The carrot” is BGN 562 million from the Operational Programme “Environment 2014-2020” for the construction of waste treatment plants. And the “stick” – a drastic increase in landfill fees to the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water – BGN 45 per tonne in 2018, BGN 57 per tonne in 2019 and BGN 95 per tonne in 2020. This money comes out of the taxpayers’ pockets through a waste fee.

Without secure financing, but with a known contractor

Instead of preparing a project under the Environment Programme, the Mayor of Smolyan Nikolay Melemov (GERB) announced a public procurement for the construction of a separating and composting installation for household waste at the “Teklen Dol” regional depot “without secured financing”. The Consortium “Eco World 2” has been chosen for the contractor and the value of the procurement is BGN 3.6 million. Partners in “Eco World 2” are “Reco Engineering” and „Eco Tradex Group” of the Haskovo businessmen Velicko Minev, Tencho Lilyanov and Daniel Gargov. The latter became known as the son in law of the MP from GERB Delyan Dobrev.

In 2016, the site is complete. However, the collected and allocated funds from the waste fee proved insufficient to pay to the contractor. That is why Melemov draws BGN 2 mln interest-free loan from the state through the Enterprise for Management of Environmental Protection Activities.

Everything in one wallet

The companies of Minev, Lilyanov and Gargov are well-known in Smolyan. Until now, the “EcoTradex Group”, managed by Velichko Minev has executed construction works for the extension of the “Teklen Dol” landfill for BGN 21 million. Their other joint-stock company – “Cleaner” Ltd carries out waste collection and disposal in the municipality.

During the construction of the separation installation, the mayor Nikolay Melemov announced a new public procurement – for the operator of the facility. At the tender, which is for activity worth BGN 3 million for a period of 5 years, only one company applied – “Eco Titan Group“ AD. It is also property of the same Haskovo businessmen Minev, Lilyanov and  Gargov. Thus, the three closed the waste management activities in Smolyan – from the construction of a landfill, through the collection of waste, to the separation of waste.

Profit without commitment

On September 9, 2016 (before the site was commissioned), the contract was signed. The contract provides for the Municipality of Smolyan to pay all the costs of the separation, and all the raw materials from the recycling (paper, cardboard, plastics, metals and glass) become the property of the operator. At that, without any commitment on the part of “Eco Titan Group” AD to support the Municipality of Smolyan in its obligation to comply with the Waste Management Act, according to which, by January 1, 2018 at least 40 % of the total weight of the waste generated, and by January 1, 2020 at least 50% should be delivered for recycling.

Whether such a clause was possible?

The answer gives us an almost identical contract signed between “Eco Titan Group” AD and the mayors of the municipalities of Sevlievo, Dryanovo and Suhindol on 16.01.2017. Yet in Art.1 of this contract it is stated that the operator has an accompanying obligation to achieve the objectives of the three municipalities defined by the Waste Management Act.

With the modest 4% recycled waste in 2016 Smolyan Municipality is ranked by the Executive Director of the Executive Environmental Agency Kamelia Radeva among the municipalities, which have not fulfilled their obligations under the law. So in 2018, the Smolyan taxpayers will pay BGN half a million for landfilling waste to the RIEW. They will also pay a few hundred thousand BGN for the maintenance of the separating and composting installation at “Teklen Dol”.

 

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