Separate collection, reuse and recycling are the activities that will help save and preserve what we have left of our environment and will provide the conditions for healthier future generations, says Todor Bourgoudjiev, Executive Director of ECOPACK Bulgaria.
Mr. Bourgoudjiev, ECOPACK Bulgaria is once more the market leader by packaging waste collected and hand over for recycling. What other achievement of the company would you single out as emblematic of the past one year?
To the team of the organization, the main task is to meet the obligations of its members in terms of recycling and recovery of packaging waste, in accordance with the requirements set by law. To us, each year that we maintain our leader position is an achievement. 2017 was marked by a number of undertakings related to the expansion of our activity – we won over 22 new municipalities which trusted us and where we set up separate collection systems. We further developed existing projects and started new ones. Such a successful example is the Door-to-Door Project in Svilengrad Municipality, where together with the municipal administration, we put in place system for separate collection from single family houses. Another good project of ours is the collection of packaging waste from the HoReCa sector in Varna, Sofia, and Burgas. It involves daily collection of all types of packaging waste from restaurants, hotels, and cafes.
We’ve always done our best to be as useful as possible to our members by improving existing services and creating new ones. Thus, last year, we aimed our efforts at rallying our members behind the cause of a cleaner environment and higher quality of life. We started the project “Together for the good of nature and society”, which is being implemented in cooperation with 31 members of ECOPACK Bulgaria –leaders in the field of fast-moving consumer goods, retail, and some of the largest producers in Bulgaria. Thanks to the joined communication resources of dozens of companies, the messages concerning a greener way of life, the protection of nature, and separate waste collection are reaching a great many and diverse target groups in every part of the country. The tangible outcome of these concerted efforts for the public is the increased share of separately collected and recycled packaging waste.
What will be the impact in terms of quality of life of the goals that you set yourselves, and build on, each year?
I’ve been talking about separate collection in Bulgaria for 14 years already. Today, however, we live in times that call for urgent actions, rather than words. The speed of globalization and technological development have resulted in an excessively consumerist society. The inevitable is already happening! Toys made in China can affect the quality of life in Europe, and greenhouse gas emissions in Australia accelerate the disappearance of rainforests in Brazil – facts that point to irreversible, destructive processes.
Separate collection, reuse and recycling are the activities that will help save and preserve what we have left of our environment and will provide the conditions for healthier future generations.
The new EC Circular Economy Package is coming up on the agenda. How would you define the biggest challenges it poses and is Bulgaria ready to face them?
People and societies have the power to decide and control their impact on nature. Only prevention and the development of new technologies for eco-design and recycling of packaging can ensure the high quality of life and health of the population.
Among the top challenges that will be faced by producers is the adoption of environment-friendly, 100% recyclable packaging. An even more challenging task will, of course, be the design itself of packaging made of biodegradable materials, which is lighter and at the same time preserves the quality of food products, is not harmful to human health, and meets all market requirements. What will pose a challenge to us is meeting the new, extremely high recycling targets for the various types of packaging waste. A challenge is equally faced by all consumers, whom we need to convince that it is high time to change their behavior and consume reasonably, with a view to tomorrow.
How does ECOPACK plan to meet these challenges? What are the priority areas where you will continue to invest funds and efforts as an organization?
It has always been our goal to constantly improve the separate collection systems and the activities we carry out. We invest funds and energy in developing more innovative projects to raise waste collection rates, as well as waste quality and purity so as to reach 100% recyclability. By the end of this year we will also pride ourselves on building a new plastic, aluminum, and paper sorting facility.
It is our goal to increase the number of people who collect waste separately. We will therefore continue to invest in informing the public, in educating children and young people about the benefits of recycling, in motivating them to use the color-coded containers, and in forming lasting habits of separate packaging waste collection.
We have long had the idea to set up an information-and-education center for youth and children, where they will be able to see and familiarize themselves with the various stages and cycles in waste processing. In 2018, we plan to open the first of its kind such center in Bulgaria. There’s some serious preparation ahead to enable us to meet the new requirements that will be incorporated into the Bulgarian legal framework in connection with the adoption of the circular economy. We firmly believe that this will all lead to the advancement of the green economy in Bulgaria, the creation of new jobs, and the preservation of a clean environment.
TODOR BOURGOUDJIEV has been the Executive Director of ECOPACK Bulgaria since 2010. He has 13 years of experience in the beer brewing industry, including as CEO of Astika. He also worked for the Coca-Cola Hellenic Group for 17 years and was Regional Technical Manager from 2005 till December 2009. He is a Member of the Board of the Bulgarian Soft Drinks Association. He has earned a number of qualifications in the areas of production, management, and human resource and process management from Harvard Business School (Boston, USA), Management Centre Europe (Brussels, Belgium), International Institute for Management Development (Lausanne, Switzerland).
Source: Ecopack Bulgaria