A EUR 200 million investment in innovation and capacity expansion has been putting plastics, e-scrap, battery and glass recycler GreenGroup at the forefront of the circular economy in central and eastern Europe. Recycling International flew in Romania to learn more.
To see what the future of modern recycling in Romania looks like, Buzau, home to GreenGroup’s main operations, is the place to visit. It’s two hours by car in crazy traffic to get north east from the capital Bucharest to this provincial town.
The drive to Buzau is an attraction in itself for two reasons. One is the spectacular views over corn and sunflower fields with the Carpathian mountains on the horizon. The other is the 100 km road connecting Bucharest and Buzau. It has three lanes, with the middle lane used for overtaking – when speeds of 140 km per hour or more are common (in both directions). Which may explain the car wrecks and overturned trucks we pass on our way; it’s not a secret that Romania ranks high in terms of Europe’s most dangerous roads.
The good news is, we have a fast but safe driver who also happens to be great company. Marius Costache leads GreenGroup’s e-scrap and glass recycling divisions. Two or three times a week he commutes between Bucharest and Buzau. ‘Our headquarters is in Bucharest but Buzau among other locations is where the recycling really happens, where my heart starts beating faster.’
CREATING FUTURE SOLUTIONS
Buzau has also proven to be fertile soil for GreenGroup. At the main facility for e-scrap recycling (GreenWEEE), massive construction and expansion are underway. One of the eyecatchers is a new fridge recycling line, arised from an open space next to the existing yard. Another building still under construction will soon house new offices and a educational hub/visitors centre.
‘We believe it’s important to help educate both younger and older generations what recycling means and how it can help create a cleaner and more sustainable world,’ says Costache. ‘Recycling is important but we recyclers have to be prepared to open the gate and show which great things are happening here.’
LEADING THE WAY IN BATTERY RECYCLING, TOO
The latest recycling solution being developed with GreenGroup is the Grinner project, funded through the European Union’s Horizon Europe programme. The goal is an autonomous AI-enabled robotic sorting system capable of…