While Serbia and other countries in the region are suffocating in all kinds of waste, from plastics to paper to glass, one Belgrade-based firm is setting an example on how to deal with this burning issue – it produces recycled paper from empty cigarette packs. Thanks to partners from Japan, Naša kuća, which employs persons with developmental disabilities, now has the opportunity to build a factory that would modernize the manual production process.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and an organization from the Japanese city of Ikoma are interested in financing the construction of the recycled paper factory, which would initially employ about 30 persons with developmental disabilities.
Naša kuća employees who produce recycled paper manually have been trained in an ancient Japanese technique thanks to support from JICA, says the firm’s founder Anica Spasov, who has been named one of the 100 most influential women in social entrepreneurship in Europe.
15 workers with developmental disabilities manufacture 100 kg of paper a month
Naša kuća currently has more than 15 workers with developmental disabilities, who manufacture 100 kg of recycled paper a month. The product is used by artists, but also for the production of packaging or as gift wrap.
The raw material – empty cigarette packs – are sent to Naša kuća by citizens from all over Serbia who are familiar with the project. Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has also been sending raw materials as well as providing financial support for eight years now.
Japanese partners will help Naša kuća’s project expand to other cities in Serbia
Apart from financial support, JICA and Ikoma will provide factory management training for Naša kuća, as well as advice on how to expand its projects to other cities and develop a network of mini factories throughout Serbia, according to Spasov.