Waste management in rural areas – Oradea Metropolitan Area

CARBON NEUTRALITY

Challenge

Waste management, as well as access to water, sewage and wastewater services continue to require intensive investments in Romania, and large discrepancies between urban and rural areas have been identified. As a result of the regionalization policy, local authorities were encouraged to join IDAs and delegate services to regional operators. However, progress is still slow and best practices from counties that are performing well need to be promoted.

 

Solution

Waste management in rural areas 

The solid waste management system has been constantly improving at the level of Oradea its metropolitan area and the county. Citizens and companies collect waste separately, in 4 fractions in rural areas (paper/cardboard, plastic/metal, glass and waste) and in 5 fractions in urban areas (paper/cardboard, plastic/metal, glass, biodegradable waste, and residual waste). The Ecolect Group (an Intercommunity Development Association consisting of all communes and cities in Bihor plus Bihor County Council), is responsible for the implementation of the Integrated Waste Management System (SMID).

The implementation of the Integrated Waste Management System (SMID) has resulted in accelerated progress in a short period of time: within six months after its implementation, Bihor County was the top performer at the national level in terms of the number of localities that implement the collection system on four or five fractions. All localities in the county benefit from a 100% degree of coverage for sanitation services and separate collection of waste in 4-5 fractions.

As part of the regionalization process, the service is offered by regional operators based on a service management delegation contract form signed between the respective localities and the operator.  In 2007, through a PHARE project, the REOSAL IDA was created, together with the company with the same name. Until 2020, the REOSAL operator ensured the waste management services for  8 rural localities (Biharia, Borş, Cetariu, Osorhei, Paleu, Sînmartin, Sălard, Toboliu) at the metropolitan level. Since 2020, localities in the MA are offered waste management services through a single operator, RER Vest. 

Composting, sorting, mechanical-biological treatment and biogas conversion facilities

In Oradea, the RER Vest operator together with the City Hall implemented a separate collection system since 2010. With the adoption of a new Regulation of the Sanitation Service of Oradea Municipality in 2021, the selective collection includes bio-degradable waste and is implemented throughout the city, based on a “pay as you throw” scheme. The bio-degradable waste is turned into compost at the station managed by Eco Bihor LLC, in private-public partnership with the Local Council of Oradea. A sorting station and a mechanical biological treatment (MBT) system also contribute to reducing the amount of waste ending up in landfills. Moreover, a pilot project is currently undergoing in one of the city’s neighborhoods, which uses technology to ensure the correct separation of waste.

Eco Bihor has also successfully implemented biogas conversion: the biogas is converted into electricity (30%) and thermal energy (55%). By implementing this technology, the biogas generated in the landfill is prevented from escaping into the atmosphere. Another advantage is that the energy is produced close to the point of use, reducing transportation costs. Electricity is used to power the ecological landfill’s facilities, and any excess energy generated is distributed via the existing power grid.  The heating and hot water service of the facility is also covered by thermal energy resulting from the biogas conversion.  

The Month of Cleaning: an inter-jurisdictional collaboration & competition model

A successful initiative for increasing the level of civic involvement and education around waste management and protection of the environment was implemented starting with 2020 by the Ecolect Group IDA (intercommunity development association of all localities across the county – 101 members). Illegal dumping is a persistent problem at the national level, signaling the need for increasing awareness and education efforts in this direction in both urban and rural areas. Through the “Month of Cleaning” project initiated in 2020, the month of May or June is dedicated to a simple goal: to have a clean county. The project also has an allocated budget for rewarding local administrations with prizes depending on the amount of collected waste, as well as children involved in the activities. In the first edition 1700 tons of waste were collected as a result of the one-month project. For 2022,  94 administrations out of a 100 eligibile ones have joined the program. The Ecolect Group IDA also launched a new website, to optimize its online communication and create a user-friendly platform: https://ecolectbihor.ro/ 

Other best practices

  • Brno Metropolitan Area

  • West Athens

  • Brno Metropolitan Area