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The Greentech organized conference within Environment Protection and Natural Resources Fair - ECOFAIR 2013 in Belgrade saw the representatives of the most important packaging waste recycling companies emphasizing the lack of recycling raw materials in Serbia. Even though System Operators and representatives of the Ministry of Energy, Development and Environmental Protection of Republic of Serbia are satisfied with the results of the application of Waste Management legislation adopted in 2009, it is the predominant percentage of packaging waste that still ends up in landfills, leaving recycling industry struggling to fill its waste treatment capacities.


In cooperation with Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Belgrade Fair, Greentech organized the conference "Serbian Packaging Waste Recycling Industry Perspectives" within the 10th InternationalEnvironment Protection and Natural Resources Fair - ECOFAIR 2013 on Wednesday, October 9, 2013. The conference inaugural speech at the packed Belgrade’s Fair Festive Hall was delivered by Ms. Radmila Serovic, Head of the Waste Management Department with the Ministry of Energy, Development and Environmental Protection. She showed the positives resulting in 2009-adopted Law on Waste Management and Law on Packaging and Packaging Waste application, introducing the "polluter pays principle" securing investment capabilities for waste management as well as for environmental protection in general.

The head of the Waste Management Department has drawn the attendees’ attention to a surge of recent years licenses being issued to both recyclers and waste collectors by the Ministry, the Provincial Secretariat for Urban Planning, Construction and Environmental Protection as well as the Local Governments. Nearly 80 % of these licenses have been issued for either the collection or transportation of hazardous and non-hazardous waste, creating the impression that Serbian waste collection is more developed comparing to waste recycling.

The praxis, however, shows that the competent Ministry does not possess insight into the actual activities carried out by the licenses’ owners, with Head of the Waste Management Department announcing a review of all licenses issued in the Republic of Serbia, receiving attending recycling industry representatives’ unanimous support.
In his presentation, recycling company Greentech Ltd. Novi Sad general manager, Mr. Mihail Mateski provided the figures showing the disproportionate amounts of PET packaging being placed, collected and recycled on the Serbian market. As per Environmental Protection Agency report as well as per data provided by the Customs and PET packaging waste recyclers themselves, Recyclers’ PET packaging waste capacity occupancy is only 39%, with only 29% of Serbian market placed quantities being collected and recycled, amounting to 45,206 tons in 2012. The actual paradox here is that some 13,000 tons of collected and recycled PET waste in the year 2012 significantly exceeds the national plastic waste collection and recycling targets set at 7.5% (being only 3,400 tons).

Hereinabove statistics shows that, due to inappropriate collection, the largest amount of post-consumer PET bottles end up in landfills, even though the Serbian PET waste recycling industry capacity is more than capable of processing some 75% of the market placed quantities.

Director of Belgrade based Umka facility, the Serbian largest cardboard recycler, Mr. Milos Ljusic emphasized that the national targets being set have no bearing on the recycling industry development, therefore unable to secure the increase of waste paper and cardboard collection and recycling. He attributed the main systemic problem to poorly equipped collectors (in terms of vehicles, presses, press containers, etc. ), poorly set national targets and insufficient awareness regarding the requirements for packaging waste and recycling separation.

Umka’s director took stance in terms that it would be preferred for Serbian legislators to go along the lines of some of the neighboring countries positives and subsidize the recycling industry as well as increase existing packaging waste collection subsidies in order to improve the collectors’ capacity and efficiency, reduce the fluctuating secondary raw material market prices negative impact, secure further "green economy" development, new jobs creation as well as recruitment from the socially vulnerable groups.

Ms. Aleksandra Mandic, a representative of Serbian glass recycling factory, Grejac, member of the Greek YIOULA HELLAS GROUP since 2004 and the only Serbian waste glass treatment facility stressed that their facility occupation rate is only 40%. Only 5% of the quantities come from public utility companies.

Brzan Plast’s general manager, Mr. Rade Simic, presented his company’s joint investment with the  Tetra Pak company in what is the Balkan’s first tetra pak packaging waste recycling facility. Such facility recently commencing its operations, having 8,000 tons of annual processing capacity and predominantly supplied with the raw material from abroad, with only some 100 tons of tetra pak packaging waste being sourced domestically. According to Brzan plast provided data, more tetra pak packaging waste is being collected in Vrnjacka Banja (population: 10K) than in the city of Belgrade (population: 2M+).

Ms. Violeta Belanović - Kokir, general manager of Sekopak - the Serbian market’s first licensed packaging waste management System Operator - provided their operational results, stating that almost 80% of Serbian economy entered the Operator System, an impressive figure even for EU country.

As for further improving the established packaging waste management system, the Sekopak’s general manager stated the existing legislation revision requirement in the area of defining the all involved parties’ obligations in the packaging waste management system chain, followed by the adoption of Regulation on the plan establishment to reduce packaging waste for the 2015-2019, containing clearly defined national targets, extending municipal packaging waste collection capacities as well as establishing all types of packaging waste collection systems in order to fill the existing recycling facilities and have the new ones opened. Ms. Violeta Belanovic - Kokir stressed the extreme importance of shifting focus to all sorts of packaging waste collection, and not just on the profitable ones, in order to have both successful system and the national targets realization.

Speaking on 2015-2019 national target, Mr. Vojislav Stankovic, director of Ekostar pak, took the stance that it is necessary to align targets with collectors and recycling industry capacities, secure faster national target percentage increments, as well as creating balance between national target levels and economy ability to provide adequate financial backing of increased national targets.

Ekostar pak director further stressed the requirement of introducing financial, banking or other payment guarantee facilities for the benefit of operators as well as standardize their operations in terms of determining the minimum number of concluded collector contracts, minimum number of employees, etc. Mr. Stankovic emphasized that Operator conducted waste trades have to be prohibited in order to prevent existing system abuses.

Conference participants expressed unified standing point regarding inspection supervision, in terms of it being more stringent throughout the whole of the Serbian waste management system. Recycling industry representatives had the opportunity to express their expectations of the future intensified dialogue with the competent Ministry, which, on their behalf, are preparing the existing waste management legislation amendments, with Serbian Chamber of Commerce consultant, Mr. Sinisa Mitrovic, conference moderator, announcing Serbian Chamber of Commerce greater involvement in establishing permanent dialogue between industry, operators, and collectors on one side and the administration representatives on the other.

Conference participants presentations can be downloaded from the herein below provided links: