Serbia could recycle a third of its annual 2.4 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) production if the country had a developed efficient waste management system (WMS). With two projects that have just been launched – Support to Waste Management Policy and Source Separation Project – it seems that Serbia is on the way to develop and improve its WMS.
“Waste management is one of the most important issues for Serbia, because Serbia is not a clean country. Our goal is to create a healthy and clean environment. We do not have the capacity to do it alone and we owe a great deal of gratitude to the EU and the European countries that have been helping us,” said Serbian minister of environment Goran Trivan at the projects’ kick-off conference.
Trivan said that waste management means life and that his ministry has been diligently working to make it right. “This is not a fairy tale. It takes a lot of hard work and we are ready to start a new action,” he added.
The goal of these projects is to separate the recyclable material from municipal and solid waste, but it will also help Serbia come closer to the EU standards in the area of waste management, Trivan explained.
The Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Mateja Norčič Štamcar emphasized the importance of waste management in the context of the environment, public health and greening of the economy. She said that recycling and waste processing in Serbia is at a fairly low level, and optimal financing mechanisms have not been set yet.
Even though the EU has been persistently working on improving waste management, the European economy still loses a significant amount of secondary raw materials, such as glass, plastic, metal and wood, she explained and added that “turning waste into a resource is one of the main elements of a circular economy.”
Waste management is one of the most important issues for Serbia, because Serbia is not a clean country. Our goal is to create a healthy and clean environment
Norčič Štamcar said that Serbia and the EU will also co-finance the EUR 6.4 million procurement of equipment for source-segregation of waste for 17 municipalities in Serbia.
Recalling that Sweden has been addressing environmental issues since the 1960s, when they noticed that “something was wrong with the Baltic Sea”, the Ambassador of Sweden to Serbia Jan Lundin said that his country has not solved those problems yet. “It is a long process and cooperation is the only way to deal with these issues. This is how Europe works, these two projects are the EU in practice,” the Ambassador accentuated.
Christian Brawenz, attache at the Austrian Embassy in Belgrade agreed. “Good neighbors help one another, because neither climate change nor waste respects national boundaries.”
As part of the accession negotiations for Chapter 27, Serbia has to harmonize its national legal system with the EU acquis, meaning it has to take necessary measures to ensure the effective implementation and control of the new EU acquis application in the field of environmental protection.
Help in this endeavor Serbia will find through twinning project Support to Waste Management Policy that is set to give support to the Serbian administration in order to accelerate its preparations for EU membership. The purpose of the project is to develop and improve the waste management system. The project is set to last two years. It will be supported with EUR 1,500,000 by the EU through IPA funds and co-financed by the Government of the Republic of Serbia.
In realizing this program, the Ministry of Environment of Serbia will partner with the Environmental Agency of Austria, as the project leader, and the Swedish Environment Agency and the Ministry of Environment of Lithuania, as so-called younger partners.
Source Separation Project – Environmental Infrastructure Support Program, Phase II (EISP2) – is supported by the Ministry of Environmental Protection of Serbia, the EU and Sweden, with a main task to introduce primary separation into the four waste regions with publicly operated sanitary landfills – Duboko, Pirot, Srem-Mačva and Pančevo. Together they collect approximately 215,000 tonnes of waste per year, of which over 70,000 tonnes could be recycled.
This project will provide technical assistance to work with local authorities and the investments will provide the essential equipment, including waste collection vehicles, containers and bins. The local authorities will need to co-finance some local infrastructure and awareness raising actions.
The objective is that the recycling rate across the four regions will increase to 15% within two years after introduction. This goal is plausible, said project manager John Glazebrook and added: “After all, Bajina Basta municipality did it”.