Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE credits
The European Union membership of Bulgaria since January 2007 imposes higher requirements to the national waste management system and demands changes in the current waste management practices. In this context it is of great interest to study the contemporary and possible future development of the Bulgarian municipal solid waste management system.
A systems analysis was carried out to provide better understanding of the Bulgarian municipal solid waste management and to analyze the possibilities for its future development in a sustainable way. Five different scenarios were constructed and compared using the ORWARE model which is a tool for environmental systems analysis that predicts ecological and economic impacts in a life-cycle perspective. The first describes the present municipal waste management system using landfilling as the only municipal solid waste treatment option. The other four describe possible future developments including business as usual and different combinations of municipal solid waste treatment options including landfilling, composting and incineration. Material recycling was included in all future scenarios.
The results from the ORWARE simulations show that landfilling has the overall highest environmental impacts as compared to the other treatment methods. The introduction of composting and incineration proved to has a positive impact on the environment and provides different benefits in terms of recovered nutrients, heat and electricity production. Material recovery and recycling allows the recovery of different materials but is highly energy intensive.
European and Bulgarian policies, legislation and different publications were studied to understand the factors that shape the current and future development of municipal solid waste management. Further, the application of tools incorporating life-cycle thinking, like ORWARE, was put in a broader perspective, i.e. their use in the policy and decision making process.
The results from the research show that environmental policies in the European Union are changing and the focus has changed from managing specific pollutants or activities to managing resources in long term life-cycle perspective. The present concept of waste is outdated in a sustainable society and waste should be considered as a resource. In the future waste management will become a synonym to resource extraction.
The present national environmental policy making does not consider global environmental consequences due to the fact that it is focused on achieving local environmental targets. The incorporation of global life-cycle perspective in the policy making process will allow the consideration of the environmental and social effects irrelevant of where they arise.
Tools, like ORWARE, that incorporate life-cycle thinking are and will be used in environmental policy making. This is proved by many cases of their successful application in aiding local and national authorities to make their decisions. Even though problems may exist in terms of the required skills and knowledge, examples show that good cooperation between policy makers, scientists and other experts will be the key for their extensive and successful application.
2007. , 98 p.