For three years now, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has been making allocations under the Green Fund that are insufficient to cover the amounts of hazardous waste treated during the year, and if the Serbian government fails to secure funds in 2019 to cover the costs of waste processing in 2018, operators will be forced to shut down their facilities and lay off thousands of workers in the waste management system. If this happens, 70,000 tonnes of waste will pile up in Serbia annually, as no one will be there to collect and treat it in the manner prescribed by the law, according to the Recyclers Association of Serbia.
So far in 2018, recyclers in Serbia have processed over 68,000 tonnes of hazardous waste. If the Ministry of Environmental Protection decides to pay for only 70% of treated quantities – which will be the case if the budget for the purpose remains at RSD 2.2 billion (around EUR 18.6 million), more than 20 million kilograms of processed waste will not be paid for. For a third year in a row, adds the association.
At an urgent session held on November 20, the Recyclers Association of Serbia adopted a decision to close the facilities and stop processing waste from January 2019.
“Banks simply do not wish to finance the treatment of hazardous waste instead of the state, and we are forced to shut down our plants and lay off workers. More than 1,000 companies are in the system of special waste streams – compromising this system would jeopardize the health of the nation. This could not be offset by later action – the damage would be unfathomable. The Ministry of Environmental Protection headed by Goran Trivan has been actively supporting the fight against illegal dumpsites for hazardous waste throughout the year. The problem cannot be buried, as that will not make it disappear. We have to charge for the waste already treated so that we can continue operating. We no longer have a day left or the money to pay the workers. We don’t have the money to fuel the trucks used for collecting waste, let alone to process waste. We are calling on Minister Trivan to urgently react,” said the association.
Polluters paid RSD 10 billion (about EUR 84.4 million) in environmental protection fees in 2018, the association said, noting that it is a catastrophic decision not to use the money to pay for the treatment of waste, as this will lead to a repeat and intensification of last year’s environmental disasters.