CECI Stakeholder Meeting - Varna, Bulgaria,  26.1.2022

A hybrid meeting of stakeholders on the CECI project - Citizen involvement in circular economy implementation took place in the Art Salon of Radio Varna on January 26, 2022. In addition to attending, the zoom platform includes representatives of the NGO sector, the Business Department of the Municipality of Varna, and citizens.

At CECI, eight partners from six countries - Belgium, Bulgaria, with the innovative Business Agency from Varna, Spain, Finland, France and the Czech Republic share a common interest in involving citizens in the circular economy by transferring knowledge about services and sharing solutions. Their aim is to improve and develop regional policies through serious civic participation.

During the meeting, the project team proposed concrete steps, some of which were inspired by the Roadmap for the development of the Finnish city of Lahti, which was declared the Green Capital of Europe in 2021.

The chairwoman of the Business Agency Association Silvia Stumpf presented the facts about the circular use of materials in Bulgaria. According to the latest Eurostat survey on the use of materials in the EU, which shows that their level of circulation in our country is improving compared to 2019, but our country is still significantly behind the EU average. For 2020, only 2.6% of all materials used in Bulgaria come from secondary streams (reuse and recycling). Our country, along with Romania, Ireland and Portugal, has some of the lowest levels of material circularity in the EU. And the EU average is 12.8%. The main topics in the Lahti Roadmap are: Closed Circle of Materials, Energy, Bio Circular Economy, New Consumption Model, Innovative Solutions. Silvia Stumpf briefly presented the ideas set in each of them and suggested that the map be used as an example that can be used in Varna.

She suggested that the plan for integrated development of the municipality of Varna, which is to be discussed in the municipal council, include information activities to explain in detail both the ideas and what is happening in the city on the topic of the circular economy.

The participants in the meeting were actively involved with numerous comments on the topic. The first was on the garbage tax, the calculation of which needs to be changed to encourage people to collect separately and consume less packaged goods.

The problem with textiles, ships with waste arriving to be burned near Varna, were also mentioned as part of the problem.

The participants in the meeting agreed on the idea of creating a public council in which they can offer ideas, citizens to participate in decision-making and thus begin the conversation about the circular economy in Varna. The structure must be formed at the municipal council of the city.

The opportunities of the non-governmental sector to provoke important issues such as the application of good European practices that are already happening, as well as limiting the exploitation of resources, which will lead to a waste cycle, suggested by NGOs with activities on the topic.

Another expert commented that an interactive version of the application of civil signals will help improve the urban environment. Monitoring of the implemented opportunities for regional development will show the extent to which local policies are in line with good European practices. The local government can control the collection of waste, the deposit system for the recovery of single-use plastics, as well as the protection of the impact of waste management. The cooperation of the municipal administration is crucial, the participants also commented.

The meeting ended with a mutual agreement on the debate on the circular economy and the participation of citizens in it to continue.