Low awareness of the benefits and importance of waste prevention, reuse and recycling, combined with inadequate policies and lack of investment in separate collection and treatment infrastructure, has led Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to dispose of 95% of their waste and thus irreversibly lose valuable resources, while creating pressure on the community, the economy and the environment. These challenges are the result of the economic situation, but also of the traditional approach to treating waste management as a social category.
The European Union has recognized these problems and financially supported the implementation of the project “Municipalities with zero waste” within the IPA cross-border cooperation program Serbia – Bosnia and Herzegovina 2014-2020 with the aim of achieving long-term resource efficiency in the waste management sector.
Through the implementation of joint actions based on the principles of zero waste and circular economy, the project seeks to strengthen sustainable development in over 90 local governments in the cross-border area of Serbia – BiH. It will be conducted jointly from March 1, 2021 by the Center for Energy, Environment and Resources – CENER 21 from Sarajevo (BiH) and Environment Engineering Group – EEG from Novi Sad (Serbia), and will last for 24 months. The total budget of the project is 413,608.44 EUR, of which the European Union provided 351,567.17 EUR in grants. The contracting authority for this project is the Ministry of Finance, Department for Contracting and Financing of EU Funded Programmes (CFCU), Republic of Serbia.
The project is designed to meet the needs of local actors involved in the provision of waste management services through the introduction of a new, sustainable concept in which waste is seen as a resource and which contributes to socio – economic development through sustainable practices.
Six pilot municipalities from the cross-border area of Serbia – BiH will serve as an example of good practice through which the general public and stakeholders in the sector will be introduced to the benefits of introducing the concept of zero waste, which has already taken root in European Union countries. Activities to be carried out in the area and in cooperation with local actors responsible for waste management include:
- Development of action plans for the “zero waste” concept
- Preparation of investment – technical documentation for the “zero waste” concept
- Development of interactive GIS maps with locations of illegal landfills
- Training program for representatives of the utility company in charge of waste management and local communities on separate waste collection
- Joint study visit to the regional center for waste management in Maribor, Slovenia
- Procurement and installation of equipment to improve waste management services and increase recycling, which includes the procurement of containers for recyclable dry waste, containers for other mixed waste and composters for organic, wet household waste
- Cleaning of the selected illegal landfill and installation of waste containers with a capacity of 7 m3.
For educational institutions in the cross-border area, it is planned to prepare and implement programs of extracurricular activities that will educate students and their teachers about the concept of circular economy in which recycling and reuse are recognized as a new business opportunity. Six high schools in the pilot municipalities will receive valuable plastic recycling equipment for the practical application of the acquired knowledge of the circular economy.
In addition, the project envisages capacity building for all relevant stakeholders in the sector through the organization of training programs and conferences and the preparation of guidelines on best practices with the aim of improving knowledge about the concept of zero waste and the principles of the circular economy. Through these activities, a dialogue will be initiated and good waste management practices, necessary in the process of transition from a linear to a circular concept of waste management, which is in its infancy in both countries.
In April, the project team plans to visit the pilot municipalities and their representatives with the aim of successfully initiating project activities and defining the roles of stakeholders.