Goodbye to the RMWTP and welcome to municipal plants. The changes to the municipal waste management system are in the home stretch. How should the entrepreneur prepare for them?
On August 8th 2019 the President signed an amendment to the Act on tidiness and order in municipalities and certain other acts (“the Amendment”). What elements of the amendment should be considered by entrepreneurs who run waste treatment plants?
Apart from a few exceptions, the act will enter into force 14 days after the announcement. The proposal amends the Waste Act of 14 December 2012 regarding the functioning of regional municipal waste management systems, and it is this that should be taken into particular consideration. As always, what is crucial are not only the new system solutions, but also the interim provisions. A painless transition to the new system often depends on the proper implementation of the latter.
The RMWTP versus municipal plant
The amendment abolishes the regionalization principle in municipal waste management. At the same time, it changes the definition of municipal waste treatment plant from the “RMWTP” (Regional Municipal Waste Treatment Plant) to the “municipal plant”. In line with these new provisions, the definition of a plant is one which meets the conditions of state-of-the-art technology, as defined in Article 207 of the Act of 27 April 2001 – Act on environmental protection or a technology defined in Article 143 of that act, which ensures:
(i) mechanical and biological processing of non-segregated (mixed) municipal waste and separation of fractions that are fully or partly recyclable from non-segregated (mixed) waste
(ii) storage of waste created in the mechanical and biological processing of non-segregated (mixed) municipal waste as well as waste left from segregation of municipal waste.
VWMP / list of marshal of voivodship/ list of Minister of Environment
Such a plant will be specified in the voivodship waste management plans, but at the same time it must be placed onto the list of working plants kept by the marshal of a voivodship.
In addition to the list of functioning plants that have been granted permission to process waste , the marshal of voivodship will also maintain a list of municipal plants that are planned to be constructed, developed or modernized.
In principle, a plant can be entered onto the list upon the request of its manager. However, the interim provisions stipulate which of the plants will be entered into the list ex officio after the Amendment enters into force. Refusal to enter a plant onto the list and its removal from the list are made by the officials overseeing the scheme.
Yet another type of regulation has been adopted for plants intended for the thermal treatment of municipal waste or waste that is result of the processing of municipal waste.
The thermal treatment of municipal waste and waste that is the result of the processing of municipal waste will only be possible in plants included in a list specified in an ordinance of the Minister of Environment. This provision will enter into force on 1 August 2020.
The list will divide the plants into existing ones, those planned to be modernized, those planned to be expanded to increasing their production capacity, and those that are planned to be constructed. Importantly, the list will also define, for each plant, the existing production capacity and planned production capacity, the deadlines for modernization, development/construction and the entity running the plant or appointed to run it. As this list is the subject of a government ordinance, each modification in the planned investments will require a change in the legislation. Additionally, due to the precisely specified parameters of such plants, entrepreneurs should specify them very carefully, especially if they have not yet received official permission.
The ordinance is not ready yet, but given the date the provision is set to enter into force, one should assume that this will take place by 1 August 2020.
Another significant change is the abolishing of the administrative barriers to obtaining decisions required for the constructing and commissioning of a municipal plant. At the moment, the provisions make it possible to issue decisions such as:
· decision on environmental conditions,
· construction permit,
· integrated permit,
· waste treatment permit,
subject to whether the relevant plant was previously included in VWMP (Voivodship Waste Management Plan). After the planned changes enter into force, whether a plant is included in VWMP (and more precisely in the investment plan) will affect only the financing of the investment from public funds, including EU funds, and not the possibility of its construction.
However, this will not be the case for thermal transformation plants for municipal waste or waste that is the result of the processing of municipal waste. If the plant is not specified on the list specified in the ordinance of the Minister of Environment, then this will constitute the basis for the refusal to issue the decision on environmental conditions, construction permit, integrated permit or a permit for waste processing in this plant.
The entities appointed on the list of the Minister of Environment to operate a plant as planned to be modernized, planned to increasing their production capacity or planned to be constructed, will also be required to submit relevant information on the progress of implementation of individual stages of the investment. They will have to perform this obligation by 31 January each year.
Failure to provide such information, delays in the execution of investment by the deadlines specified in the Amendment may result in the plant being removed from the list and new plants entered onto the list.
Time to adapt
The new system described above will apply to the investments initiated after the Amendment enters into force. What about the plants which already operate or those under construction? In this regard it is helpful to read the interim provisions which specify i. a.:
– the terms of validity of VWMPs adopted before the Amendment enters into force (VWMPs adopted before 1 July 2016 for thermal waste transformation plants are treated differently),
– what happens with the applicable resolutions regarding the execution of VWMPs,
– how should the existing RMWTPs be treated,
– which waste treatment plans will be entered ex officio onto the list kept by marshals of voivodships,
– what obligations of providing information by 31 January 2020 apply to the entities appointed to run plants for thermal transformation of municipal waste or waste that is the result of the processing of municipal waste defined as planned to be modernized, planned to be developed in terms of increasing their production capacity or planned to be constructed in the VWMP applicable on the day of the Amendment’s entering into force.
The amended provisions introduce significant changes in municipal waste management, therefore they may raise a lot of doubts. Should you have any questions, please contact us.