WWF: Bulgaria Has Untapped Potential for Development of Bio-Based Economy
Bulgaria has excellent potential for boosting bioeconomy, but it needs a bold and ambitious vision for its development. These findings are contained in a survey entitled "Quantitative Assessment of Biomass in Bulgaria and Alternatives for Its Sustainable Use", carried out by the WWF, the Wageningen University and the Energy Agency of Plovdiv, where the only ISO-accredited Bulgarian laboratory for solid biofuels, compost and biological waste is located.
The analysis shows that artificial and built-up area in Bulgaria account for a mere 4 per cent of its surface, which otherwise is dominated by forests (40 per cent), arable land (29 per cent) and grasslands (18 per cent). Bulgaria has relatively large resources of arable and forest areas, which in per capita terms are double the European average levels.
Bulgaria has smaller quantities of bio-waste, with 400 kg on average. With regards to its utilization, which represents raw material for new economic activities, Bulgaria lags behind the European Union, said Georgi Stefanov of the WWF.
The survey showed that as little as 4 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Bulgaria use
predominantly renewable energy, which ranks Bulgaria second to last in the EU; only 13 per cent of SMEs offer ecological products or services and a little over one third of SMEs implement energy saving measures. New legislation on waste generated by businesses is about to take effect from January 2021 but there are no official data or plans for reducing waste generated by SMEs.
The main obstacles to the introduction of a bio-based economy in Bulgaria are economic: limited financing, which businesses need in order to upgrade their equipment and the low level of private domestic and foreign capital investment.
The biggest factor which contributes to the poor performance is the lack of support by the state. The administration is yet to draw up strategic documents for the development of circular economy, said Stefanov.
Bulgaria has remarkable potential for development of a bio-based economy due to the enormous quantities of residual and unutilized materials in agriculture including the manufacture of foods. At the same time there is even larger focus on the utilization of forest resources, while forests in Bulgaria are put under considerable pressure due to illegal logging and climate change.
According to the WWF Bulgaria should try to minimize timber harvesting, utilize more efficiently the available resources and focus on bio-waste and waste from economic activity in forestry.
Source: WWF Bulgaria