How it all started
Svilengrad is a 25.000 inhabitants town in the southeast of Bulgaria, right on the border with Turkey and Greece. As an environmental front-runner among Bulgarian municipalities, Svilengrad was invited by Zero Waste Bulgaria (Environmental Association Za Zemiata) to join the Zero Waste cities programme run by Zero Waste Europe and its members.
In early 2018 the members of the local Zero Waste Advisory Council started working together to draft a Zero Waste action plan and a long term implementation strategy. The ZW Advisory Council is a diverse group of active local citizens striving for a clean Svilengrad. The Council includes restaurant and hotel owners, non-governmental organisations, Roma youth, members of the local parliament, municipal officials, senior citizens, teachers, doctors, etc.
The implemented measures
For the first time in Bulgaria, the Svilengrad municipality, together with the packaging recovery organisation Ecopack, introduced a door-to-door collection system for one thousand single-family households. For high-rise multi-family buildings, the municipality has also started a pilot scheme providing three green eco-islands with electronic key access for local residents. Similar mini eco-islands exist now in all kindergartens to ensure early training on correct habits and attitudes towards waste.
But it does not stop here, Svilengrad has also launched another important initiative, unique for Bulgaria: a pioneering ‘door-to-door’ dedicated collection for dry recyclable waste from commercial enterprises, like shops and restaurants.
Electronic waste (WEEE), batteries, bulky waste and hazardous household waste are also collected separately through a local network of collection points in shops and a local reuse center.
“We are delighted by the news and sure that the ambition and efforts of Svilengrad will inspire other Bulgarian municipalities to join the Zero Waste journey and be a model for the Balkans and beyond.”
Esra Tat, Associate Director at Zero Waste Europe
So far the results of all these efforts have been very good, even winning various green prizes (Greenest Municipality by Ecopack, Ecoobchtina by the French Institute in Bulgaria).
The old landfill is now closed down and covered by trees. Meanwhile, Svilengrad is looking forward to the future in expectation of a new 3.000 tonnes/year composting installation, which is to be built with European funding from Operational Programme “Environment 2014-2020”.
“Svilengrad is a pioneer in separate waste collection in Bulgaria. We are the first municipality to introduce the ‘door-to-door’ collection method to make it easier for citizens to separate, and we have achieved very good results and a cleaner environment.”
Georgi Manolov, Mayor of Svilengrad