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Ecological aspects of the future plant for waste treatment

Despite the progress Bulgaria has achieved in the management of waste materials a big part of the organic waste is thrown in the common waste depots near the bigger cities in the country. Organic waste, however, turned out to be dangerous. In anaerobic conditions (demolishing of organic substances without the presence of oxygen when the waste is buried in the depot) the hydrocarbon from the waste materials turns into methane, which may explode. This is exactly what happened at the waste depot in Istanbul several years ago when 12 people died and 42 houses were destroyed. Not only because of such a danger but because of the threat of financial sanctions against Bulgaria on the part of the European Commission in the last months the biggest city that generates waste in Bulgaria – the capital Sofia – speeded up the process for the construction of a plant for the treatment of waste material. The project envisages the building of a plant for mechanical and biological treatment of the garpage. It will be near the villages of Yana and Gorni Bogorov, quite close to the capital. According to the Sofia municipality the plant should be ready by the end of 2011.

While Sofia is now beginning to consider the building of a plant for the treatment of the waste materials the Austrian capital Vienna started resolving the problem as early as the end of the 50’s of the 20th century. For years now instead of burying their waste in the ground Austrians either treat it or burn it. Suffice it to mention the Viennese plant “Spittelau” which has also turned into a tourist attraction. “The comparisons that are often made between the future plant in Sofia and the one in Vienna are groundless”, says bio-technician professor Maria Zlateva, world famous scientist in the field of compost – turning of organic waste into manure.

“Austria is among the European countries, which has resolved the problem with its waste materials in a perfect manner. There is a plant for burning waste in Vienna and it was one of the first to be built in Europe. At the same time however the Austrian capital built a modern plant for separation of the waste material, regardless of the fact that the citizens of Vienna conscientiously distribute their garbage in eight different types of containers. The plant for the separation of the waste materials was built in order to guarantee that the bio-demolishing substances are separated.”

Bulgaria’s future plant for waste material will also have the capacity to separate and compost garbage. The problem, however, according to professor Maria Zlateva is that the structure of the Bulgarian waste material differs from that of the West European countries. The reason is that the bigger part of the Bulgarian households prepares their own food and that means that there is a bigger quantity of food waste in the garbage. In order to act efficiently the Sofia waste treatment plant should lay stress on compost. If it chooses burning of the waste materials this will endanger the safety of the people and will have devastating impact on environment. This is so because when burning food waste materials harmful gases are emitted and it is proved that some cause cancer diseases.

“Teams from leading world institutes who monitor the climate changes have come to the conclusion that the most severe damage on nature is caused when burning waste”, says professor Zlateva. “Big quantities of carbon dioxide are emitted in the process. Specialists warn that because of the burning of waste, forests and coal our planet has already lost part of its matter. It has been calculated that if by 2050 we do not stop burning such big quantities of waste material the Earth would be forced to “import” matter from other planets.”

Whether the people in charge of the construction of the Sofia plant for treatment of waste material will take into consideration the recommendations of professor Maria Zlateva remains to be seen. One thing however is certain – the future of all of us depends on a nature-friendly way of living. That is why the idea of some ecologists to use waste as a source of energy is gaining popularity.

English version: Ivaila Bozhanova

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