Bulgaria - Country Commercial Guide
Environmental Technologies

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-09-11


Bulgaria has made significant improvements in its environmental performance since its European Union accession in 2007. While Bulgarian legislation reflects the EU’s environmental requirements, implementation still remains a challenge.

Concerns about air quality, especially in Sofia, construction in protected areas, lack of integration of nature and biodiversity policy, and lack of adequate management and conservation objectives continue to challenge the government.

While Bulgaria’s drinking water, due to extensive, high-quality aquifers throughout the country, is of excellent quality but of insufficient quantity, the country’s sewage network is incomplete and sewage treatment rates for urban waste water are still low. Bulgaria still needs to build a number of drinking water and waste water treatment plants for settlements of less than 10,000 inhabitants.

Environmental Opportunities for U.S. Companies:

  • Industrial, agricultural and municipal waste water treatment technologies
  • Membrane technologies
  • Solid waste landfill construction and maintenance
  • Waste collection and waste sorting equipment
  • Waste-to-energy technologies
  • Recycling and waste sorting technologies and facilities
  • Composting of bio and agricultural waste
  • Hazardous waste treatment technologies
  • Closure and rehabilitation of all non-compliant landfills and enforcing of the ‘polluter pays’ principle
  • Integrating the nature and biodiversity policy into other sectorial policies, and defining conservation objectives and measures for the adequate protection and management of the protected nature sites
  • Air pollution control technologies for various industries
  • Drinking water treatment technologies, including removal of heavy metals
  • Water loss detection equipment.

Bulgaria’s Operational Program on the Environment 2014-2020 offered a variety of opportunities for U.S. exporters to provide solutions for environmental protection in different sectors. The new Operational Program on the Environment 2021-2027 (eligible through 2029) also offer opportunities to U.S. firms to participate in local tenders. It will provide $1,77 billion of EU funds for water management, waste management, biodiversity, climate change and air pollution control. Here are some of the expected outcomes of the new Operational Program - additional 1.5 million people served by improved wastewater treatment; additional 200 thousand people served by improved water supply; 285 thousand tons less waste going to landfills; 1.3 million people benefitting from cleaner air; 4.4 million hectares of species and habitats with improved conservation status; 2.8 million people benefiting from flood protection and reduced risk of landslides.


Bulgaria Eco-Innovation Outputs Chart 1
Bulgaria Eco-Innovation Outputs Chart 1

Source : https://ec.europa.eu/environment/ecoap/bulgaria_en

Sub-Sector Prospects

Air Pollution Control

The air pollution control sector provides opportunities to U.S. exporters for the construction of pollution control installations at various industrial facilities. Measures to combat air pollution have been highlighted as priorities by the Government of Bulgaria and utilization of EU funding has been allocated. Some municipalities are more active and are looking for new technology for air pollution control.

The Operational Program on the Environment 2014-2020 is providing funding to municipalities for air pollution control projects such as reduction of coarse particle dust, PM10, carbon dioxide; replacement of coal and wood heating appliances with environmentally sound alternatives in various municipalities, including Burgas, Montana, Sofia, Smolian.

Among the main sources of pollution in Bulgaria is domestic heating of solid fuels such as coal and wood, combustion of coal for the production of electricity and heat from thermal power stations, road transport, industry, construction and repair activities. In 2022 a big push for solar energy projects and battery storage ones has been seen in order to tackle the problem of air pollution and control it.

The EU Green Deal paves the way of a massive transformation of the EU industries. It will impact all businesses in the EU and all member states in achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Source : https://www.iqair.com/us/bulgaria

Drinking Water and Waste Water Management

With 688 rivers, 43 lakes, 13 coastal waterways, and 177 groundwater bodies/aquifers it is estimated that only 47.2 percent of Bulgaria’s natural surface water bodies reach a good or high ecological status. 

To meet EU requirements most Bulgarian industries will need to construct or upgrade their wastewater treatment facilities. Urban wastewater treatment plants are planned for hundreds of cities and towns with less than 10,000 residents. Wastewater treatment plants of towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants have already been constructed. The financing of water infrastructure depends on master plans that identify the needs of given districts/ groups of towns. The EU will provide funding for both standard and innovative solutions for wastewater treatment to include funds for the construction and rehabilitation of water supply/sewage networks in many municipalities. Bulgarian water utility companies will tender these projects as design and build projects. Opportunities exist for U.S. exporters to provide various consultancy services and participate in supply chains. EU funding for construction or rehabilitation of sludge treatment facilities, wastewater treatment plants, and biomass utilization projects also exists.

To further speed-up the process of upgrading Bulgaria’s water infrastructure the government empowered municipalities to work with the recently established water associations at municipal level in order to transfer ownership and improve their performance, water quality and water management. The Bulgarian water utility companies are beneficiaries to the EU funding for water/waste water treatment facilities. Price is a leading factor in winning these tenders but U.S. firms may participate as long as they have a Bulgarian partner or representative. The U.S. Commercial Service can assist with identifying a Bulgarian partner.

Waste Management

Municipal/solid waste generation in Bulgaria increased slightly in 2022 but remains below the EU average. Contrary to the desired trend, there is an increase in the usage of landfills and a decrease of recycling. Recycling of municipal waste (including composting) increased to 35 percent in 2017 but is still low compared to the EU average of 46 percent. Bulgaria still has one of the highest landfill rates at 62 percent (2017) in comparison to the EU average of 24 percent. The country needs to either close or rehabilitate numerous non-compliant landfills.

Full implementation of the existing waste legislation could create more than 14,000 jobs in Bulgaria and increase the annual turnover of the waste sector by over USD 1.6 billion. Waste legislation and policies could create an additional 16,500 jobs and increase the annual turnover of the waste sector by over USD 2.1 billion.

Trade Events

Waste Expo 2022, Las Vegas


Ministry of Environment and Water

Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works

Environmental Operational Program 2021-2027

U.S. Commercial Service Sofia Contact Information

Name: Ms. Stanislava Dimitrova

Position: Senior Commercial Specialist

Email: stanislava.dimitrova@trade.gov

Phone: +359-2-939-5740