Recycling and Resource Recovery in Bulgaria

Recycling is still a dirty business in Bulgaria with very few exceptions. There is the metals recycling private mafia for example. Many gypsies steel metal as a way of generating cash. My own village house was broken into in Trankovo, Bulgaria and the stolen goods were mostly electric cables.

Companies that recycle MSW in the large cities are privately owned and connected to the political oligarchy. Private grassroots initiatives for increasing public awareness of environmental issues are non existant or have no media coverage. There are no Waste to Energy plants. There are no plastic to liquid fuel plants.

At the school level, I am aware of teachers teaching kids about recycling and environmental protection. At my girls' school in Plovdiv, there was a competition in 2017 about which classes have collected and recycled the most paper. Adults however are cynical. "it all gows in the same truck" they say when they see the recylcing containers from EcoPack.

There are documented many grassroots protests to protect environmentally protected areas but none to demand MSW recycling. Also it is a well established fact that many beaches in the Black sea have been over developped such as in Varna and Sozopol which generates mountains of trash from the tourism industry.

Shocking Fact: A very large proportion of the municipal waste is landfilled in Bulgaria. The amount of municipal waste deposited into landfills was 98 % of the generated amount in 2010 according to the EEA.

Shocking Fact: No material and organic recycling of municipal waste was reported in Bulgaria from 2001 to 2010. Packaging waste is not included in the reporting to Eurostat on the recycling of municipal solid waste in Bulgaria. Even if packaging waste would be included under the reporting of MSW recycling, it will require an exceptional effort for Bulgaria to fulfil the recycling target of 50 % by 2020.

Shocking Fact: Waste management practice is still rudimentary, and the bulk of the work needed to achieve a good performance is still to be done. OECD Report on Bulgaria

The Ministry of the Environment in Bulgaria is politicized and a puppet ministry in the hands of the political PM. Recently, in July 2017, the Landfill in the village of Ihtiman outside sofia caught fire and the resultant fog on the Trakia internatioal Highway caused traffic accidents. This did not spur a public-private debate on how to mitigate and solve such issues.

On the upside, Private metal recylcing companies are strong players: There is KCM in Plovdiv which recycles car lead batteries and there is Aurubis in Pirdop which recycles Copper. In the ferrous recycling market NORD HOLDING has 22% market share according to their website. End of life car recycling companies are available in all major cities. I got about 130 lev for my 1995 Opel Corsa which caught fire and was completely burned in 2017.

The same applies to recovery of plastics and paper/cardboard. There are a couple of plastic/paper recycling private companies in the Trakia Economic Zone in Plovdiv. One example is PapirBG. In Stambolijski there is Mondi.


Associations Connected to Recycling and Resource Recovery in Bulgaria:


Bulgarian Association on Recycling. According to their website, the managing board is run by representatives of private companies such as Норд Холдинг АД , Ровотел ФМ пропърти, Хефти метал, Унитрейд БГ, Евростийл Трейд ООД companies that seem to be connected to the recycling mafia.

EcoPack: a not-for-profit company licensed by the Ministry of Environment and Waters, founded in February 2004 by 18 leading Bulgarian and international companies with the aim to promote recovery of food/drinks packaging. However, No Bulgarian supermarket has any of the machines that scan the bar code and accept any kinds of food containers which is common in Modern countries such as Switzerland and the USA.


NGO's Active in the area of increasing environmental awareness in Bulgaria:

Za Zemiata

REC Bulgaria


Companies Active in the Area of Municipal Solid Waste Management

Veolia Bulgaria

In Plovdiv:





In Sofia:




Sources/References/Useful Links:


Ministry of Water and the Environment of Bulgaria

The EEA 2013 Report on MSW Management in Bulgaria

OECD Report on Bulgaria Environmental Performance


Report compiled by Rami E. Kremesti M.Sc., CSci, CEnv, CWEM

Last updated August 11, 2017