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Sofia (AFP) June 28, 2012
Bulgaria's parliament passed a new waste management law Thursday meant to bring the country into line with European Union rules and avoid the looming threat of non-compliance fines.
The law had been stalled in parliament for a year because of strong opposition from recycled metal dealers.
Bulgaria has more than 2,000 scrap-metal buyers who are rarely forced to show the required "certificate of origin" for their wares -- enabling a thriving trade in stolen rails, road signs and electric lines.
Local media often carry reports of youths, mainly Roma, who die stealing high-voltage power lines.
Under the new law, recycled metal dealers must apply for new licenses and set up shop in locations authorised and monitored by local authorities. Only electronic payment will be allowed.
The law also requires towns to recycle at least 50 percent of household waste by 2020, a big change for a country that recycles little of its rubbish other than metals.
Environment Minister Nona Karadjova said she was confident the law would allow Bulgaria to escape European Commission fines despite being adopted well after the EU's December 2010 deadline for countries to comply with new waste management regulations.
The EU rules require countries to legislate regulations such as the "polluter pays" principle and implement policies to reduce, reuse and recycle much of their waste.
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