Waste

Experts, NGOs demand fresh public consultation on Serbia’s 2021-2024 waste management plan

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October 5, 2021

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Published:

October 5, 2021

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Non-governmental organizations and experts are demanding a fresh public consultation on the long-awaited proposal of Serbia’s 2021-2024 waste management program, given that the ongoing debate was scheduled in haste and in a non-transparent manner. The consultation closes on October 8. In addition to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, you can send your comments to Balkan Green Energy News, which will publish all of them.

A good part of the interested public only learned of the public consultation two days ahead of an online conference organized by the ministry on October 1. Those who attended the event noted that the announcement for the conference was missing a link to the document itself, which was instead available in a different section of the ministry’s website.

The public learned of the public consultation just two days ahead of an online conference

Participants also criticized the ministry’s limited communication on such an important issue, noting that the public should have been informed via the media, social networks, and the ministry’s website much earlier given the complexity of the 430-page document.

The Proposal of the program of waste management in the Republic of Serbia for the 2021-2024 period is the principal document for waste management planning in the country, which has over 3,000 illegal waste dumps, where several unsanitary landfills were on fire this past summer, where hazardous waste streams are not transparent, and which still has no solution for packaging waste management.

Tanasković: stakeholders had enough time to get acquainted with the proposal

Though admitting that the conference should have been announced earlier, Jelena Tanasković, a state secretary at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, also claims that all stakeholders were given enough time to get acquainted with the contents of the Proposal since the document was posted on the ministry’s website on September 16. She also says that the public consultation, which was originally due to close on October 5, has been extended until October 8.

To help all stakeholders have their voice heard amid the crisis surrounding the public consultation, Balkan Green Energy News is inviting all those interested in this issue to send their comments to us. All comments will be published on our web portal.

Aarhus centers: public consultation process should be repeated

The network of Aarhus centers in Serbia has said that the hasty and insufficiently transparent manner in which the public consultation was organized was in contravention of a number of legally binding documents transposed into Serbian legislation, including the Aarhus Convention, which deals with public participation in decision-making in environmental matters.

The ministry is urged to publish projections of the Proposal’s effects

Aarhus centers also call on the ministry to issue a new invitation and extend the duration of the public consultation to at least 30 days. The ministry is also urged to provide an ex-ante analysis of the projected effects of the Proposal during the fresh public consultation.

Kristina Cvejanov: public consultation without interested public and experts

Kristina Cvejanov, a waste management consultant, has said that organizing public consultations without the interested public and experts in the age of modern communications is unacceptable.

Organizations and institutions representing the interests of stakeholders were not invited to the online conference

She also noted that organizations and institutions representing the interests of stakeholders – such as local governments, public utilities, businesses, the recycling industry, consumer associations, and civil society organizations – should have been invited to the conference directly.

The public has been expecting this Proposal since the country’s waste management strategy expired in 2019, according to her.

What does the Proposal contain?

Expounding on the Proposal, Jelena Tanasković said that Serbia generates 12 million tons of waste a year, of which 2 million tons is communal waste. The country has 10 sanitary landfills, which process 440,000 tons of waste, she said. However, the bigger problem is the fact that there are 2,170 registered illegal waste dumps, even though it is estimated that the actual number of such sites is over 3,500.

To develop a sustainable waste management system, Serbia must align its regulatory framework with EU directives, and this is what the program aims to achieve, according to her.

The regional landfill system will be replaced with a system of regional recycling centers

One of the key changes that will be introduced with the proposed program is switching from the system of regional sanitary landfills to a system of regional recycling centers, which will involve separate waste collection, sorting, and recycling, as well as non-recyclable waste treatment.

Tanasković said that a loan agreement will be signed this year with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to finance the construction of eight regional recycling centers, which will cover 50 municipalities. She also said that more such centers will be built after the first eight are completed.

The proposed program seeks to divide Serbia into regions in order to reduce the amounts of untreated waste, and to advance the application of the circular economy principles, according to her.

Kuzmanović: proposal seeks to introduce a deposit system

Snežana Kuzmanović, head of the waste management department at the ministry, said that the plan is to introduce a waste deposit system, in addition to the recycling centers, because 90% of packaging waste must be recycled. This, according to her, calls for a new law on packaging and packaging waste, and a working group has already been set up to draft the bill.

The purpose of the program is also to reduce the number of regional landfills and introduce the principles of circular economy and waste prevention.

Cvejanov: the Proposal does not address single-use plastics and oxo-degradable bags

Kristina Cvejanov noted that the Proposal of the waste management program is hardly aligned with the EU’s new directives given that it does not deal with the issue of single-use plastics and that it allows the use of oxo-degradable plastic bags, which Serbia has declared “biodegradable” and which were banned in EU member states from July 3 this year.

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