Plastics and packaging laws in Bulgaria

1. What is the general legislative framework regulating packaging and plastic waste in your jurisdiction?

On a national level, the Bulgarian Waste Management Act (“WMA”) provides the general legislative framework that regulates packaging and plastics waste. The WMA is generally compliant with EU law, as it implements, inter alia:

  1. Directive 2008/98/ЕC on waste and repealing certain Directives; and 
  2. Directive 94/62/ЕC on packaging and packaging waste.

The WMA implements the general principles of precaution and sustainability, technical feasibility and economic viability, protection of resources as well as the overall environmental, human health, economic and social impacts. It also establishes a priority order to waste management:

  1. prevention;
  2. preparing for re-use;
  3. recycling;
  4. other recovery (e.g. energy recovery);
  5. disposal.

Furthermore, the national legislation regarding packaging and plastics waste, includes several ordinances, such as: 

  1. Ordinance on Packaging and Packaging Waste (“OPPW”); 
  2. Ordinance No. 2 of 23 January 2008 on Plastic Materials and Articles Intended to come into Contact with Food; 
  3. Ordinance No. 2 of 23 July 2014 on Waste Classification;
  4. Ordinance for Determining the Order of Payment and the Amount of the Product Fee.  

2. Are there any measures, existing or expected, in respect of single-use plastics?

There are no existing measures with respect to single-use plastics for Bulgaria excluding the statutory separate waste disposal. 

Bulgaria has not yet adopted national legislation in light of EU Directive 2019/904 regarding the reduction of the environment impact of certain plastic products.

3. Are there any existing or expected producer responsibility schemes in place for packaging or plastics?

The WMA and the OPPW determine the extended responsibility measures that producers must comply with if they place on the market products which, after use, form mass or ordinary waste. The measures aim at encouraging the reuse, prevention, recycling and other recovery of packaging waste. These measures include: the acceptance of returned products and waste remaining after the use of these products, the subsequent waste management and the financial responsibility for these activities, as well as obligations to provide information to the public on the extent to which the product can be reused and recycled. 

There are specific requirements established by the OPPW regarding the collection, utilisation and recycling of waste from packaged goods. Specifically, persons who place packaged goods on the market are responsible for the reduction of packaging waste. This includes the optimisation of packaging and its repeated use, as well as for the use of recycled materials in the production of packaging, when this does not contradict hygiene and health norms. Additionally, producers are responsible for the separate collection of the packaging waste that is generated by them, the recycling and utilisation of the separately collected packaging waste and the environmentally friendly disposal of the packaging waste that cannot be recycled and/or utilised.

The persons who place products, which generate mass waste and/or packaged goods on the market, shall fulfil their obligations either:

  1. through collective systems represented by a recovery organisation (a commercial entity which manages and/or carries out the operations for separate collection, recycling and recovery of ordinary waste); or
  2. individually, if the person has received permit for these activities.

4. Are there any existing or expected deposit return schemes (“DRS”) in place for packaging or plastics?

Deposit return schemes are generally regulated in Bulgaria by the WMA and the OPPW. According to the applicable provisions, persons placing packaged goods on the market may organise, individually or jointly with other manufacturers and distributors, deposit or other reusable packaging systems. These economic operators, together with consumers of packaging materials and packaged goods, as well as bodies and organisations established by law, would determine what conditions, type of packaging to which the deposit return system applies and the price for the deposit of packaging should be.

Although regulated, deposit return systems in Bulgaria are not implemented as a matter of practice. 

5. Are there any existing or expected taxes on packaging or plastics?

In Bulgaria, the Ordinance for Determining the Order of Payment and Amount of the Product Fee provides for a fee to be paid upon placing on the market, in the Republic of Bulgaria, plastic shopping bags and products, which form mass waste after they are used. Where those who place plastic shopping bags on the market cannot be identified, distributors, including those selling to end consumers, shall have the same obligations.

A product fee is paid for a few categories, including (i) packaged goods or packaging material, when used for packaging of goods at the location of sale, and (ii) plastic shopping bags, including oxidisable plastic shopping bags.

A product fee is not due for:

  1. plastic shopping bags, which cumulatively meet the following conditions:
    1. the thickness of the bag is at least 25 microns (µm);
    2. the minimum dimensions of the bag shall be 390 mm and 490 mm when unfolded;
    3. have markings with inscriptions in Bulgarian, printed on each package of the bags or on the bags themselves, which must contain:
      1.  the name, registered office and address of the person who places the bags on the market;
      2. designation: "reusable bag".
  2. very thin plastic shopping bags without gripping method;
  3. plastic shopping bags, meeting the standard EN 13432, marked with inscriptions in Bulgarian, which must contain:
    1. the name, registered office and address of the person who places the bags on the market;
    2. labelling: "the bag is biodegradable";
    3. date of manufacture and expiry date.

As a general rule, the product fee is included in the price of the product. The exception is plastic shopping bags (other than those listed above) that are only available for a fee to consumers at the point of sale of the goods or products.

6. Are there any measures, existing or expected, regarding micro-plastics or the use of microbeads in products?

There are no measures regarding micro-plastics or microbeads in Bulgaria.

7. Are there any existing or expected recycling or waste reduction targets in place for packaging or plastics?

The WMA and the OPPW regulate that persons placing packaged goods on the market shall take measures to achieve the following objectives: (i) no less than 60% of the weight of packaging waste must be recovered or incinerated in waste-incineration plants with energy recovery, and (ii) no less than 55% and no more than 80% of the weight of the packaging waste shall be recycled by recycling not less than 22.5% by weight of plastic packaging waste, the recycling of which results in only plastic. 

The WMA and the OPPW regulate the measures that shall be taken to reduce packaging waste, intended for final disposal, in the following sequence: the prevention of packaging waste, preparation for re-use of packaging waste, recycling of packaging waste, and other recovery of packaging waste, such as recovery for energy, and disposal.

8. Is the use of recycled materials in food packaging regulated?

On a national level, the Food Act regulates controls on packaging that is intended to come into contact with food. In addition, Ordinance No. 2 of 23 January 2008, on the Plastic Materials and Articles Intended to come into Contact with Food, creates conditions for the application of:

  • Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004 on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food and repealing Directive 80/590 / EEC defining the symbol for authorised food contact and Directive 89/109 / EEC on materials and articles, intended for contact with food;
  • Regulation (EC) 2023/2006 on good manufacturing practices for food contact materials and articles;
  • Regulation (EC) No. 282/2008 on recycled plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food and amending Regulation (EC) № 2023/2006.
  • Regulation (EC) No. 975/2009 amending Directive 2002/72 / EC relating to plastic materials and articles, intended for contact with food.

The Ordinance determines the requirements that must be met for materials and objects coming into contact with food, including active packaging, intelligent packaging and objects from plastics.

Under Bulgarian law, persons who place on the market packaging or packaging materials must certify in a standard form declaration their conformity to these measures. In addition, persons who put packaged products on the market are obliged to use only packaging, which meets the conformity requirements, as certified before them with a copy of the conformity declaration. In this declaration for conformity, the packaging should be identified by abbreviations and codes.

Also, waste is subject to classification under the Ordinance No. 2 of 23 July 2014 on waste classification. The waste producer classifies waste by affixing to it a sixfigure code as per schedule to the cited ordinance.

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Kostadin Sirleshtov
Managing Partner
Sofia
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Nevena Radlova
Counsel
Sofia
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Antonia Kehayova
Senior Associate
Sofia
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