Sanctions for companies with poor waste management start from 20,000 RON and accumulate, reaching 120,000 RON, explains Daniela Dobre, CEO of Green Environment Support, a business with a turnover of two million RON in 2021.
By Romanita Oprea
Many companies do not realize the importance of compliance with environmental legislation. Among the companies’ obligations in terms of waste management, are: the selective collection of waste generated from the activity and its storage in specially designed, weatherproof and labeled spaces; holding contracts with authorized collectors for each type of waste; keeping waste delivery documents; maintaining a waste management record updated monthly and presenting it in case of control; making the annual report on waste generated to the County Environmental Protection Agency. BR talked with Daniela Dobre and found out more about the subject.
What were the main investments you made this year and what were the main directions and why?
Our main investment in 2022 was in increasing our efficiency as a team for us to be able to dedicate more time to our customers and subsequently improve the quality of our work. We have developed an internal app that takes some of the tasks off our shoulders as it works with certain standards, and we will continue improving it throughout 2023.
How would you characterize 2022 for your company?
It was a challenging year with a lot of updates on the environment protection legislation. This required a lot of hours spent in law analysis and consultancy services for our clients. Also, our portfolio of projects expanded, keeping us really busy pretty much throughout the year. Of course, this led to an increase in the number of team members in order to fully meet all our clients’ needs in the highest professional way. In terms of financial results, the company has known a constant growth as compared to the year before.
How different was it from what you wanted at the beginning of the year?
Not very different. We have managed to achieve the main goals set for 2022. Of course there were some changes in the legislation occurred in 2022, but they haven’t been implemented yet, being postponed for 2023. But our mission is to keep the clients up to date with these changes and with the procedures they must implement subsequently.
What are your goals and plans for 2023?
We will continue with the development of our app and with expanding our expertise on the market. In 2023 we will also focus on enhancing the brand awareness of the company and keep on carrying with the educational process on the Romanian market, teaching companies, as many as possible, about the legal requirements in environment protection.
What are the trends in your industry and how are you adopting them and why?
Year over year this industry has been expanding hand in hand with the European Union requirements. Our experience is helping us working closely with our customers in choosing the best solutions for their business. Also, we act as a very useful ally for our clients when the state authorities decide to show up for a surprise routine check-up of the company’s activity in what the environmental protection requirements observation is concerned.
How would you say that the industry has evolved since your company entered the market?
The industry has known such a great development over the last few years! There were only a few companies offering this type of services in the beginning and we were some of the first to do it. We decided to go into this particular line of business because the market was really requesting it. Now there are companies mixing up the environmental consultancy services with other related activities. Still, I believe that consultants should always be objective and impartial as to provide the best services, acting exclusively for the client’s interests`.
Why do you believe that some companies avoid complying with the legislation?
The most frequent reason lies in the additional costs complying generates for a company. Some of the small companies are not able to absorb these costs so they prefer to play risky, even if the fines are very high.
Then we have the `not everyone complies, so why should I` mentality. And there are other situations when the procedures in themselves make complying very difficult for some companies lacking in solutions environmental protection wise, such as finding a collector for specific waste, that could be very difficult sometimes.
How can adopting sustainable practices help a business grow?
Adopting sustainable practices will surely catch the eye of banks and investors. And this is how companies are set to grow for real in this new business era. Besides this, the sustainable practices generate savings in the company’s activity, improving the income-expenses report. Some of the most effective are:
- Using renewable resources.
- Selectively collecting waste and handing it over to certified collectors for recovery and reuse.
- Cutting down on the waste by reusing it.
- Setting up light sensors for saving on electricity consumption.
- Using car sharing services (with electric cars, if possible) or the public transportation instead of the company’s car fleet.
- Using electronic storage devices and media (clouds, servers) instead of the printed ones.
What are the main challenges for companies who want to be sustainable in 2023 and why?
To prevent instead of resorting to last minute solutions. They should start by implementing an efficient waste management policy followed by a plan for cutting down or reusage of resources, preventing them from turning into waste.
The companies should also get acquainted to their responsibilities towards the environment and acknowledge that sustainability is the new business philosophy, a mandatory part of every company’s development plan. They should also amend the gap between intention and action in what the sustainability approach is concerned, with solid steps toward this goal, not just statements of intention.
Actually, in what the population and the economic agents are concerned, two incredibly simple recommendations can trigger behaviors with an extremely positive impact on environmental protection: learn how to decrease personal consumption, but to enhance its inherent value, that is smart consumption, and learn how to save on resources because they become less by the minute.
Change starts with small steps, but they need to be carried out by enough economic agents in order to generate a noticeable difference. Educating the business world about its set of responsibilities toward the authorities working in environmental protection has been one of our greatest goals since the beginning of our activity as a company.
What do you believe are companies’ biggest fears when it comes to sustainability?
It all begins with the resistance to change. Only when that is surpassed the companies allow themselves to analyze the size versus costs ratios involved in changing procedures, because changing a company’s infrastructure can turn into a really costly challenge. Then there’s the legislation, hard to figure out without the help of specialists in environmental protection; and they are still pretty hard to find because there’s just not enough of them on the local market.
Also, we talked before about lowering consumption. Well, this is another big fear the companies are currently facing: they are convinced that lower consumption is strongly tied to lower profits and we, the specialists, have to prove them wrong. My final thought on this is that any sustainable solution requires collective action and, unfortunately, we can clearly see the lack of involvement of the companies in making this work together.
What would you advise them?
I advise each company to comply with the specific environmental requests for their line of business and to try to do so right from the start. The fees and fines in environmental protection can be very high, with a real impact on the company’s activity and cashflow. Also, the pressure for the companies to align to the EU standards and procedures will keep enhancing with every year that goes by. For sure, the more postponed the alignment, the harder the coping and adjustment of the internal procedures.