SUCCESS STORY: Sălacea Project-the First Step in the ZERO WASTE Certification Process

Since April 2018, the City Hall of Sălacea, a commune near the municipality of Oradea, has applied the Zero Waste Strategy for Communities.

It is an example of Good Practices identified in the Interreg Europe project BIOREGIOA pilot project by which the local public administration together with Zero Waste Romania, the local waste collector, and the waste treatment plant, compost and landfill operator aim to reduce as much as possible the amount of waste generated by the population (about 3,000 inhabitants; 1,000 households) and to use recyclable and biodegradable waste. 

Thus, in April 2018 the project introduced new sorting and separate collection systems. The street bins and containers were removed and replaced by a complete door-to-door separate collection system on five streams (paper and cardboard, plastic and metal, glass, bio-waste, residual waste).

Several steps were needed to implement the project:

  • A comprehensive education program, led by the community leaders - interaction with the citizens in churches, schools, local pubs, local cultural centre

  • The setup of the new collection infrastructure. Volunteers distributed separate collection kits containing various bins and bags, but also information materials. The waste collector used multilingual stickers on the bins, in all the three languages spoken in the area: Romanian – Hungarian–Romani
  • Door-to-door biowaste collection. One of the most important achievements of Sălacea, was the separate door-to-door collection of biodegradable waste, which is turned into compost through an open-air process and sold as flower fertilizer/soil in Hungary and Romania. Sălacea is the first municipality in Romania that composts the biowaste collected from 97% of the inhabitants. 
  • Home composting - played a major role in the reduction of the total generated waste. Over 400 home composting units were distributed to the population.

Results after 3 months of system implementation compared to the amount of collected waste previously:

  • Total generated waste reduction rate: from 0% to 55%
  • Landfilling: reduced from 99% to 55 % (including 16% of non-recyclable waste and 39% residual waste from households) 
  • Separate collection rate: raised from 1% to 61%
  • Recycling rate: raised from 1% to 40%
  • Rates of local citizen engagement increased from 8.4% to 97%

Sălacea story demonstrated that the implementation of a five stream door-to-door separate collection system is a best practice that can be replicated in rural communities across Romania, and beyond. The system has been proven to be extremely successful, showing significant results within only three months.

The article in extenso (in Romanian) was originally published on 18.10.2019 and is available here.