Waste management in Chisinau: Realities and tendencies

About 600 tonnes of waste are daily collected from waste storage platforms in the municipality of Chisinau. This waste is pre-sorted at the transfer station and is taken to the Țânțăreni waste dump. The volume of stored waste increases annually, but the storage capacity of the Țânțăreni landfill is limited. How to manage the problem of waste: what can the authorities and the population do to prevent a collapse in the capital city?

Volume of waste is the largest at the end of summer and in autumn

The municipal cleanup company Autosalubritate is responsible for waste collection and transportation of municipal solid waste to the municipal waste dump. There are several private business entities that collect waste, but the volumes are insignificant. The largest volume of waste is produced in the second part of summer and in autumn, when vegetal waste is mainly collected. In winter, less waste is collected, except on holidays when the volumes grow significantly. “We double or triple the effort we make, but the payment is the same. W daily have by 45 routes with 39-42 trucks, depending on the volume we have on the platform,” stated the acting director of Autosalubritate Igor Gîrlea. On average, 55% of the collected waste is biodegradable. It also depends on the period of the year. 20% of the waste cannot be sorted and recycled. As much, 20%-25%, is recyclable waste, such as plaster, glass, metal and wood.

Besides the waste generated by the population, there is also waste coming from enterprises. Autosalubritate signed over 16,000 contracts with legal entities. Some of the business entities refuse to sign contracts. These do not want to pay, arguing they do not generate waste. In Ciocana district alone, there were identified 350 business entities that do not want to sign a contract with the municipal enterprise. 70% of them were persuaded to sign contracts, while 30% refuse categorically.

Storage capacity of Tânțăreni waste dump expected to be enough for 11 more years

The waste from Chisinau is taken to at least two storage places: the landfill in Țânțăreni village of Anenii Noi district and the waste dump in Boșcana. The current contract with the local administration of Țânțăreni, to which the largest part of waste from the capital city is taken, is signed for a period of three years. In the period, Autosalubritate and the municipality of Chisinau have obligations towards the owner of the lot –Țânțăreni commune. If all the obligations are fulfilled, a new contact will be negotiated with the owner. Among the obligations are to modernize the landfill and to protect the environment. The levee at the waste dump is now being reinforced.

In 2017-2018, when the waste dump started to be used again, studies were carried out and it was determined that the water near the dump was polluted with substances used by farmers, not due to the substances existing at the landfill. To prevent the smell and light fractions from spreading, the waste is compacted and stored at a depth of 2 meters, being covered with 3 cm of land. There is also a fence surrounding the dump for the light fractions not to go beyond. The storage capacity of Tânțăreni waste dump is expected to be enough for 11 more years, depending on the solutions that will be implemented to deal with recyclable waste.

Waste no longer burned

Waste burning at the European level is no longer popular. Larger investments are now made in mechanical-biological treatment, in compost stations, in sorting at the source. Two problems are faced in the case of waste burning: technologies and the human factor. The technologies should be super-advanced and should ensure the purification of emissions. The human factor should be well trained. Furthermore, not all the waste can be burned. The compost stations are a solution as composting is used in the case of vegetal mass that should not reach the waste bin. This type of waste does not pose a threat and can be taken to the landfill. It would be efficient to manage this separately, stated Igor Gîrlea.

“Waste burning is a very complex and risky process, especially if last-generation technologies are not used and if the personnel are not trained and monitored maximally prudently. As far as I know, the last-generation technologies are very costly and these costs will have to be covered directly by the citizens or by the local budget (indirectly by citizens). None of the two variants satisfies me as the purchasing power of the citizens of Chisinau is not the same as that of the Europeans,” stated mayor general Ion Ceban.

New infrastructure, new standards

Autosalubritate is in the process of buying 38 new dustcarts and eight garbage trucks. The procurement of 3,000 containers was completed and a contract is to be signed in August. The municipal company is carrying out a feasibility study to build a new transfer station, according to new environmental protection standards and with sorting lines. The tender contest for these works is to be initiated not later than at the end of September. According to Ion Ceban, in some of the cases the related costs were covered with local budget funds, while in other cases, especially for ongoing improvement processes, the City Hall secured funds from international partners for implementing the Chisinau Solid Waste project. The City Hall raised a loan from the EBRD, obtaining €5.85 million from the EBRD and E5P and €9 million in non-reimbursable assistance from the EIB.

Recently, the Public Amenities Division of the Chisinau Municipal Council announced a tender contest to set up new waste storage platforms. The program is intended for apartment buildings that have waste storage tubes inside. “In the case of such types of blocks, we close the tubes so as to exclude the unpleasant smell and infections in the block and build platforms near the block. About 80 tubes in apartment buildings have been closed,” stated Vasile Efros, head of the Division’s Territorial Development and Environment Unit. On these platforms, there will be placed containers for biodegradable waste and for recyclable waste. “If waste is collected separately and is taken for recycling, less waste will remain for storage and the landfill could be used longer,” stated Vasile Efros.

The municipality identified money for a waste sorting line and obliged Autosalubritate to purchase waste sorting services so that all the waste is sorted and the recyclable waste is not taken to the landfill in Țânțăreni. According to Ion Ceban, the City Hall and the cleanup company cannot do something else at this stage as they need to wait for the conclusions of the Ministry of Environment over the recycling solutions at the level of region 4 (that includes the municipality of Chisinau). The Ministry of Environment is conducting a feasibility study covering the whole region and without the conclusions of this study Chisinau cannot move on in terms of recycling.

With care for environment and for own pocket

Mayor Ion Ceban said it is essential to persuade the people to sort waste, but the ensuring by the citizens of sorting at the source should be monitored. A solution is to set up surveillance cameras at waste storage platforms so as to identity those who do not sort waste and to make the others more responsible. Large investments are needed for the purpose. Legal provisions should be introduced to encourage sorting and recycling of waste in the case of companies that produce large volumes of waste.

Vandalism remains a problem. Recently, three containers were set on fire and the wheels of two zinc-coated waste containers were burned at a waste storage platform in Râșcani district. These useless losses are covered with public funds. A container costs about 6,000 lei. “The containers are the property of the municipality, of the city and the attitude to these should be appropriate. The responsible bodies should also ensure more rigorous control,” said Igor Gîrlea. He noted that investments need to be made in the waste collection, transportation and storage infrastructure, but the citizens should also more responsible.

A number of modernization projects to efficiently manage waste are ongoing. “We will have processes similar to the European ones and will meet the best standards in this regard. We will sort 10% to 20% of the waste until the end of this year and will increase the indicator the next few years. The sorted waste will not be taken to the waste dump,” said Ion Ceban. The municipality of Chisinau generates one third of all the waste in the country.

Milena Macarciuc, IPN

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