EXPRA held its festive spring General Assembly meeting on 13 April in Sofia, Bulgaria, where also the 5th Anniversary of our organization was celebrated. The meeting was organized outside Brussels due to the related event with the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The kind hospitality of EXPRA Bulgarian member – ECOPACK Bulgaria was appreciated by all participants – 22 of 26 members of EXPRA came to Sofia to discuss the current topics.

Joachim Quoden gave a short report on the achievements of EXPRA as well as the outlook on 2018, including EXPRA Evaluation 2017 and objectives for 2018. The members were informed about the new Waste Legislation, to be shortly rubber-stamped, as well as the recent developments related the EU Plastics Strategy – the EP opinion (ongoing) and the expected in May single use plastic legislation.

In the open part of the meeting the waste management in Bulgaria: currents status and challenges were presented from the point of view of a legislator, obliged company and PRO.

The contribution of industry in Circular economy was presented by Svetoslav Atanasov, Chairman of BD Ecopack and General Manager Coca-Cola HBC Bulgaria. He presented the activities of the Company on improving environmental performances, including eco design (plant bottle) and optimiziation of packaging: Decreasing weight of primary packaging, consumption of secondary packaging and optimization of pallet configuration.

In her presentation, Ms Ivelina Vasileva, Chairperson of the Environment and Water Committee of the Bulgarian Parliament and former Minister of Environment and Waters provided overview of the situation in waste management in Bulgaria with a focus on packaging waste: the existing legislation defining the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders and expected changes resulting from the CEP.

Todor Bourgoudjiev, CEO of ECOPACK Bulgaria, presented the functioning of EPR for packaging waste with focus on ECOPACK operation and results, as well, as the challenge ahead. These include insufficient PET recycling facilities, the China’s impact on the EU’s recycling industry and Bulgaria in particularly. He presented also how ECOPACK plans to overcome the challenges by: increasing container’s density and the servicing frequency, Investing in new sorting lines and recycling facility for PET production and development of new projects – retail outlets and HoReCa. In the plans of the Organization is also to cover all contaminated polyethylene’s and plastics that are difficult to recycle and have no capacity in Bulgaria – PP buckets of milk, polystyrene (Styrofoam) and polycarbonate (HOD).

In the following discussion hot topics in different countries including deposit were outlined – both the representatives of the Parliament and the industry underlined that if the EPR system is performing well, there is no need to disrupt it and at the end to increase the costs/end price for the consumer.

Ms Amanda Fuso Nerini, CONAI, Chair of EXPRA sustainability and Packaging WG presented the Expra’s principles standpoint on “harmonized” fee modulation. This is an ongoing project, aiming at meeting the new requirements, stated in the WFD, Article 8.a, point 4 (b).