With the help of governments of Switzerland and Austria, four countries of the region started a platform to exchange experience in the area of waste management, Serbian public broadcaster RTS reported. A two-day meeting was organised in Belgrade for over 50 participants from national institutions and municipalities. Solid Waste Data Collection Project for South-East Europe was the frame for the regional platform. The project is implemented by Aquasan network in Bosnia and Herzegovina, active in water sector and environmental protection, Serbian Solid Waste Association (SeSWA) and the Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe (NALAS). Activities are supported by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) through Open Regional Fund – Modernization of Municipal Services (ORF-MMS)
In Serbia, only two thirds of territory is covered with organised collection of waste, similar to neighbouring states. Irregular landfills worsened the impact of massive floods which devastated the region two years ago – water reached such sites in low areas and streams were contaminated, said Marijan Dujmović from Aquasan network of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The common challenge is also how to finance environmental protection on the ‘polluter pays’ basis. Eco taxes were introduced. Srđan Todorović, director of the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund of the Republic of Srpska, stated 95% of collected funds was directed in projects for the establishment of infrastructure for the gathering and selection of packaging waste. Private initiatives are emerging and capital is ready to be invested in waste treatment and recycling, he added.
The state doesn’t subsidize, but it is subsidized by European funds, so EUR 30 million is secured from IPA for regional plans, said Daniela Nelepa, who heads Macedonian Association for Solid Waste Management (MaSWA).
RTS said Serbia recycles 10% of waste, even though the latest data from Eurostat show the country, together with Montenegro, Macedonia, Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina reuses only up to 1%, while literally all the rest goes to landfills, against the continent’s average of only 28% for landfilling. Still, Igor Jovanović from Montenegro’s Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism said the Adriatic country recycles about 5%, according to data from the government’s plan. He added the share may be bigger but that it cannot be determined as the system for tracking waste flow isn’t established.
Christophe Di Marco, a fund manager in GIZ, said German and French models are effective, but that a project for adaptation is needed for the region, to see particular needs.