How is electronic waste managed in Moldova?

Waste electrical and electronic equipment has major negative effects on the environment and human health if not managed in an appropriate manner. When they reach the common landfill, they lead to the pollution of the environmental components: soil, water, air.

“The correct and responsible collection of WEEE means better health for each of us, a cleaner environment and a continuous circular economy, thanks to the energy provided by recycling”, Denis Macovschi, the head of the Environmental Economic Mechanisms Section, stated the Environment Agency.

The effects of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic waste on humans are diverse. Mercury causes neurological problems, poor development in fetuses and young children, tremors, emotional changes, insomnia, death. Chromium generates respiratory irritation, kidney disorders, and cadmium – lung disorders.

The Republic of Moldova does not have the capacity to capitalize on these types of waste. But there are collective systems that collect them and ensure their management up to the stage of export to authorized enterprises outside the country.

The executive director of the MoldRec waste management company, Ruslan Nercaș, says that electrical and electronic waste accumulated on the company’s platform is sorted by category, packed, prepared for export and transported to Romania, to the largest factory in South-Eastern Europe, where are directly subject to the recycling process. Last year the company collected more than 500 tons of waste electrical and electronic equipment.

All economic agents who sell electrical and electronic products must be responsible for creating waste collection points, from where they are picked up and taken to recycling.

“Waste electrical and electronic equipment becomes hazardous when it is abandoned in the environment. There are still expired equipment that every citizen keeps in the household. The attitude towards these equipment must be responsible and they must not be thrown with municipal waste, in the dumpster, or abandoned”, stated the head of the Policy Directorate for the management of waste and chemical substances at the Ministry of the Environment, Svetlana Bolocan.

There are around 200 collection points for electrical and electronic equipment in Chisinau. By the end of the year, more than a thousand collection points will be installed. “We have to understand that it is not a good practice to invest millions of lei to have collection points next to each residential block. People need to be conscientious and look for the collection points closest to them. We cannot compare the volume of electronic equipment waste with the volume of household waste. It is necessary for people to show their interest, to look for where these points are, but for that they must be informed, they must know the dangers (of dumping at the landfill), the benefits (of recycling)”, said the director of the MoldRec company.

“The Environment Agency is in continuous communication with the economic agents whose type of activity is the commercialization (including the import and placing on the market) of products subject to the regime of extended responsibility of producers, thus making them aware of the provisions and obligations they have in in accordance with the normative acts that regulate the extended responsibility of producers, including for EEE products”, said Denis Macovschi.

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Regia Autosalubritate, the municipal solid waste disposal operator in Chisinau, also intensified communication on the aspect of educating citizens regarding the correct management of electrical and electronic waste.

“We strongly and insistently ask you to take electronic waste, household appliances to the operators who deal with this type of waste. Large appliance stores must have their own temporary warehouse. Accordingly, any citizen who has electronic, household electrical waste has the right to take it, and the retailer has the obligation to accept the electronic, household electrical waste. The containers that Autosalubrity has are for waste that can be categorized as recyclable, but not electronic waste, household appliances, not medical waste, not industrial waste. These types of waste must not be buried under any circumstances”, explained Igor Gîrlea, interim director of Autosalubrity.

The network of collection points of authorized collective systems for waste management can be accessed on the websites of the Moldcontrol Employers’ Association, the Eco Save Foundation, and the Univers Ecologic Public Association.

Since the entry into force of the Regulation on electrical and electronic equipment waste, approved by the Government Decision of March 7, 2018, five collective systems have been authorized that have taken on the obligation to implement extended producer responsibility and act on behalf of producers regarding the management of waste electrical and electronic equipment.

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