Draft bill to ban single-use plastics at Romanian festivals

A civil society had managed to convince the environmental ministry of Romania that it is hugely important to reduce as much as possible the ecological footprints of the festivals held in the country. The Act for Tomorrow association and the ministry had come up with a draft legislation according to which from next year the organizers of festivals and other public happenings would be obliged to arrange for a proper selective waste collection on the site of their event.

The main objective of the initiative is to reduce and prevent the large-scale waste production that had accompanied public events – concerts, festivals, political or religious themed ceremonies, country-side and city fairs for years.

On the other hand, the ministry seems to be set on aligning Romanian legislation with the latest European requirements, like the proscription of disposable plastic cups and cutlery which are not recyclable. The draft legislation contains a series of provisions that’ll have to be put in practice by the organizers of public events to decrease the strain of waste on the environment: they will have to provide the necessary infrastructure for selective garbage collection, with at least the three main types of containers: for the recyclable, the non-recyclable and the biodegradable waste.

Organizers will also have to place enough eco-toilets on the site of their event, will have to assign courtyards for special waste collection, will have to post the regulations of selective collection, giving examples to help with the distinction of different garbage types. The location will have to be sanitized before and after the public function as well. The foods and drinks sold or given for free on the site of the event will have to be served in biodegradable or reusable vessels and packages.

This legislation initiative was actually the last draft signed by the latest minister of environment, Graţiela Gavrilescu, as she had resigned in the context of the helter-skelter between the governing Social-Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) that had recently left the government. The departing minister declared that these are all principles that need to be implemented as they are meant to suppress the quantity of waste produced by the usage of disposable objects. As she pointed out, the implementation of this draft legislation would help event organizers become motors of sustainability themselves, helping the transition towards a concentric economy. A setback might be though that not just ministers, but governments do not last long lately in Romania.

The president of the Act For Tomorrow association, Andrei Coşuleanu pointed out though that more reforms are needed so that the healthy, proper and constant enforcement of the concept of sustainability would take roots in the practice of mass events. “We are convinced that the organizers of the big Romanian festivals will consider upholding this future law a good omen, which will definitely contribute to the reduction of the negative effects of these events on the environment” – he stated. The Act for Tomorrow had launched a request to other stakeholders as well to participate in the public debate of the draft legislation that lasts until the 29th of September.

The communication referee of the association, Andreea Petruţ declared in an interview given to the RFI radio that no comprehensive survey had been conducted yet, which could have provided data about how sustainable and environmentally friendly the Romanian festivals are. They have some observation regarding some big events in the country though, amongst them the fact, that most of the events have similar garbage bins; even if these were meant to serve selective collection, there were no distinctive signs and no adequate info about it. Some events had established different spots for the different types of garbage disposal, but the fact is that a coherent and unified system is needed so that participants would know exactly how to dispose of their festival waste correctly.

Romania is still trailing all other European Union countries concerning selective garbage collection – emphasized the representative of the association. The position of the Act for Tomorrow is that festivals, which have a collective forming effect and can reach lots of young people, should assume a proactive role in propagating environmental protection and sustainability.

The title image is an illustration. The initiators of the draft legislation are of the opinion that festivalgoers should get to know what a correctly managed selective waste collection means


Author: Éva Zay