Suceava, a lesson in sustainability. How a landfill was transformed into a green area with non-reimbursable funding from EEA Grants

Published: Thursday, 13 Jun 2024

Suceava is one of the three Romanian cities selected in the EU Mission "100 smart and climate neutral cities by 2030".

The Bucovinean city, with a population of 85,000, has taken on the mission to act as a centre of experimentation and innovation, paving the way for other Romanian cities to become climate neutral.

A milestone in achieving this goal is the closure of the Ipotești temporary municipal waste landfill, an initiative successfully completed with the help of European Economic Area (EEA) Grants.

The project in Suceava has achieved ZERO expenditure from the local budget, non-reimbursable grant funding from the EEA Grants and ZERO delays in implementation, due to compliance with the payment deadlines set between the Municipality and the contractors who carried out the works.

The city faced a major environmental problem

Ipotești - the initial situation of the temporary landfill until the implementation of the inn situ closure project

Suceava faced a major environmental challenge at the end of 2019, when it recorded more than 420,000 cubic meters of collected waste that could not be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way, according to European legislation, and the Moara landfill was still in the construction stage.

Temporary municipal waste landfills have a significant negative impact on the environment and landscape, as their location is usually on the perimeter of urban areas, with adverse environmental, social and economic consequences.

Potential sources of pollution are varied and include wind blowing light waste (paper, plastic), rainwater entering the landfill body, emissions into the atmosphere, fires or odor and dust formation.

Suceava had an innovative solution and saved 10 million euros in costs

Annually, approximately 96,000 cubic meters of compacted municipal waste were stored at Ipotești, until the end of July 2019 when the Moara landfill became operational. The transfer of these quantities of waste would have involved costs of almost 10 million euros. 

In the first stage, two options were considered: transferring the waste to the ecological landfill versus closing the Ipotești temporary landfill in situ. According to the expert study, the comparative analysis, which took into account the costs of carrying out the investment in compliance with environmental legislation, concluded that the closure of the temporary landfill in situ is the most appropriate solution for this investment.

Running in parallel with five other projects with similar objectives - closure of temporary landfills in Cluj - Napoca, Deva, Botoșani, Fălticeni and Gura Humorului, also funded under the EEA Programme "Environment, Climate Change Adaptation and Ecosystems" (RO-Environment), the Suceava project managed to stand out for the innovative technical solution chosen: the introduction of compressed air into the landfill body to decrease leachate loads and substantially reduce gas emissions.

Temporary storage at Ipotești helps Suceava become climate neutral. The electricity needed for the post-closure monitoring equipment of the warehouse and for public lighting in the area was provided by installing photovoltaic panels.

Thus, it was possible to avoid transporting waste already collected at Ipotești to the Moara landfill, which would have taken about four years and would have generated pollution in the city. In addition, the closure in situ of the temporary landfill at Ipotești extended the operating time of the Moara landfill by more than 3 years.

The main steps in neutralising the Ipotești landfill involved: organising the site and mobilising the necessary resources, preparing the area by removing vegetation and profiling the land, removing waste from the landfill`s edge areas, reconditioning the construction site, creating stable soil, building the access road for the final sealing and maintenance works around the landfill. Temporary surface water collection and disposal systems were created, installations for the groundwater monitoring system were installed and landscaping with grass planting was carried out.

A quick decision by the donors to increase the initial value of the project had a beneficial impact on its results and sustainability.

Thus, the additional non-reimbursable funds, obtained in a short period of time, could be used for the integration of a SCADA system (monitoring, control and data acquisition system). The digital system is innovative and is used to monitor the landfill for 30 years to measure the noxious emissions from the covered waste.

This technical component will ensure that the Ipotești initiative complies with European directives and national legislation on monitoring of temporary landfills, and the total value of the investment is around €2.5 million.

The Ipotești temporary landfill benefits from digital monitoring through a monitoring, control and data acquisition system.

"We have benefited from the support and backing of EEA Grants throughout the project, and the timely payments have led to a smooth flow of the specific project works. The financial support and the efficiency of the funding process were two key elements in the remarkable results of this project", said Ion Lungu, Mayor of Suceava.

"It mattered a lot that our initiative added value to the city of Suceava and the local community, and the donors understood this, approving in a very short time the additional amount granted to add a digital component to the Ipotești temporary landfill, which assures all of us that environmental rules are respected and the population remains safe", said Mihai Hostiuc, the project manager.

Green space, fresh air, invitation to get out more

The Ipotești initiative has meant more than just eliminating a source of pollution for the people of Suceava. It also comes with an important social benefit, through the redevelopment of the land where the residual waste was located. It becomes a green, clean-air space dedicated to the people of Suceava as an invitation to spend more time outdoors.

"My personal satisfaction was that the degraded land will be transformed into a natural setting, optimal for spending leisure time, a space that also contributes to reducing pollution levels by purifying the air", said Ion Lungu, the mayor of Suceava.

By carrying out this project, the environmental impact has been reduced and at the same time a deep social impact on the local community has been ensured.

The EEA Grants represent the contribution of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to reducing economic and social disparities in the European Economic Area and strengthening bilateral relations with the 15 beneficiary countries in Eastern and Southern Europe and the Baltic States. These funding mechanisms are established on the basis of the Agreement on the European Economic Area, which brings together the EU Member States and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as equal partners in the internal market. In total, the three countries contributed €3.3 billion between 1994 and 2014 and €2.8 billion for the funding period 2014 - 2021. More details are available at: and