Gradual tightening of environmental rules is beneficial
Implementation of targets for separate collection of packaging waste in municipalities is the direction for further development of recycling industry in Serbia, said Mihail Mateski. The general manager of Greentech d.o.o. as well as of Macedonian Grinteh MK d.o.o. told Balkan Green Energy News the measure should be paired with bigger investments in infrastructure for separate waste collection, line containers, bins, sorting stations and reverse vending machines (RVMs). Positive examples can be found in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Croatia, Mateski said in an interview. The two firms are members of Green Group, which has factories in Romania, Serbia and Macedonia and branch offices in Greece and Germany.
What are the challenges in procedures and environmental regulations in Greentech’s line of business? How does it adapt when stricter requirements are introduced?
Greentech is successfully fulfilling all environmental regulations and reporting. We are in the final process of ERP implementation and planned ISO standardization for 2017.
We have raised initiative to the state to further develop the reporting system of the Serbian Environmental Protection Agency. This would enable more precise and comprehensive data collection and analysis, and would include all sources of waste generation, collection, recycling and processing. We believe that gradual implementation of stricter environmental requirements would be beneficial for all industry stakeholders.
How is the company structured? How many employees do you have and what is the outline of recent financial results?
Greentech has a head office in Novi Sad, a factory in Mladenovo – Bačka Palanka and collection centers in Novi Sad and Belgrade. The factory has two production sections: PET and HDPE bottles processing line and LDPE and LLDPE film processing line. Currently we have 140 employees and the number is increasing, expected to reach 150 by the end of 2016. Our income last year was EUR 4.8 million, and in 2016 we expect to reach about EUR 6 million. The results achieved in the first half of the year are showing that we are on the good path.
The number of employees in Serbia should increase from 140 to 150 by the end of the year.
What are the end products that come out from your facilities? Where are they delivered?
The final product from our PET bottles processing line is hot-washed PET flakes A grade. All quantities are exported to our Green Group factories in Romania, where they are used for production of polyester (PET) staple fiber, PET strapping band and r-PET granules.
The final product from our and LDPE and LLDPE film processing line are LDPE and LLDPE granules. They are sold to end-users in Serbia, but also exported to clients in Germany, Sweden, Slovakia, Macedonia and Bulgaria. The applications are the production of films, sacks, bags and pipes.
What does Greentech have in the pipeline regarding investments, and what is its long-term vision?
Further downstream development of our end-products, increasing our processing capacities and implementing up-to-date processing technologies. Also we are planning to expand our collection infrastructure, to implement smart collection systems and multi-material collection.
How do you assess environmental policies in Romania and other markets where you operate? Have there been any recent changes?
One of the biggest challenges for Romania as a European Union member state was the alignment to standards in matters of environmental protection. The two main priorities were the harmonisation with the EU’s acquis and creating a mechanism able to apply and monitor the application of the legislation. Since 2007, Romania has elaborated several official documents to establish the national objectives for environmental protection. The main environmental issues include climate protection, nature and biodiversity conservation, waste management, and water and soil management.
Although the Environment Operational Sectorial Program developed was elaborated in tight correlation with other operational programs in view of achieving the conformity with the EU objectives, efficient services for this area were not created in Romania. The country needs to implement efficient environmental policies and to further integrate environmental concerns into economic policies, with the aim of achieving and fulfilling the objectives as an EU member.
Compared with other countries where we operate, it is visible that Romania doesn’t have a national integrated waste management program and the directives are not properly transposed in accordance with the country’s needs. Several urgent measures need to be taken in order to reach our environmental objectives, such as a nationally spread and functional collection system, traceability and transparency with regards to the waste, the existence of a landfill tax, and support from local and national environmental administrations for private investments (such as waste recycling industry or energy recovery). The economic development and environmental quality are equally important components for a community growth. But Romania ranks last in terms of recycling in Europe, with only 5% of the recyclable waste reaching recycling plants, while the remaining 95% is lost.
What is the business direction and vision for Romania?
Green Group’s development strategies and investments in Romania are channeled firstly towards acquiring the most modern processing installations, and towards investment in innovating collection systems. With a consolidated turnover of EUR 90 million in 2015 and more than 1,900 employees, the group is today a major player on local recycling industry market. By integrating the operations of all six companies, Green Group is able to close the recycling loop and save resources and energy, with installed capacities of recycling over 300,000 tons annually.
Sigurec system will help Florești village become the first community in Romania to reach recycling targets assumed at national level – 50% of generated municipal waste.
Lately, local authorities have shown interest in cooperating with Green Group for promoting waste recycling and reaching the collection, recycling and valorification targets. A unique example at national level is the voluntary agreement for implementing its collection systems Sigurec in Florești village, with the purpose of visibly increasing separate collection for all types of waste. Thus, this will be the first local authority in Romania to reach recycling targets assumed at national level of 50% of the total municipal waste generated.
This is an example that should be embraced by all the local authorities, with benefits both for authorities, the population, the recycling industry and the environment.
What are the results of the employment of Sigurec as a consumer-oriented automatized recycling system? Will the company roll out more features for it?
This unique integrated automatic infrastructure with a modern sensor-based technology enables innovation in resource recovery, not only protecting the environment but also obtaining clean recyclable materials from citizens, following the shortest road to the recyclers. Implemented in 2013 by Green Group in Bucharest, Sigurec is now present throughout the country, via partnerships with retailers. The total value of the investment in this innovating collection system exceeds EUR 10 million, out of which almost EUR 4 million are from the Norway Grants financing scheme.
The Sigurec project has an amazing journey. The population wants to recycle and we offer a safe collection system that ensures that the waste reaches the recycling plants. From the beginning till now we collected, through all Sigurec solutions, more than 31,000 tonnes of waste (PET, WEEE and other types).
Sigurec Prime are automated stations in parking lots of supermarkets and Sigurec In are machines inside stores. The brand has solutions called Mobil, service for collecting waste from home, and Bags, for collection via bags directly from the source, while Sigurec City is a station specially designed for integration in the proximity of residential areas and schools.
Sigurec Public will be underground containers for public areas. This means less frequent emptying, as well as solving a number of littering issues and separate collection of waste while on the go.