From 2017 to 2019, a total of 831 thousand tons of municipal plastic waste was produced in Serbia. From this amount of waste, 14 thousand tons, or two percent of this type of waste, were collected and recycled separately.
Since the separate collection of municipal plastic waste is not systematically organized, large quantities end up in unsanitary landfills or in land and riverbeds, the Report on the Audit of the Purpose of Business Plastic Waste Management showed, the State Audit Institution announced.
State auditors warn that the existing way of managing plastic packaging waste and applying the principle of extended liability of waste producers creates a risk that the national targets for reuse and recycling of plastic packaging will not be achieved.
As the audit conducted by the State Audit Institution during 2020 shows, 897 thousand tons of plastic waste were produced in Serbia from 2017 to 2019.
Plastic takes up to a thousand years to decompose, and in the meantime it causes great damage to the environment and, indirectly, to human health. On the other hand, the current way of using plastic and disposing of plastic waste does not achieve economic benefits that would bring a circular approach, so plastic, as a valuable material for the economy, is lost after it becomes waste, said Dr. Dusko Pejovic, President of the State Audit Institution and the Auditor General.
As he emphasized, in order to achieve a higher rate of plastic waste recycling, it is necessary to improve the system of separate collection of municipal waste and the application of the principle of extended producer responsibility.
The implementation of this audit showed that the regulations in Serbia in the field of waste management are mostly harmonized with the regulations of the European Union, but that no mechanisms have been created for their full implementation.
Not all goals defined by the strategic and planning framework have been realized. Instead of the planned 26 regional waste management centers, 10 were established. Fifteen local self-government units did not adopt local waste management plans, said Nikola Stefanović, state auditor and team leader who conducted this audit.
Separate waste collection was established by 43% of local self-government units (LGUs), while the share of separately collected waste in the total municipal waste is 5%, Stefanović pointed out.
Of the total fee for plastic packaging paid by producers, as stated in the audit report, nine percent was invested in a system of separate waste collection. For that reason, local self-government units, as the founders of public utility companies, participate in the development of the system of primary separation, ie recycling, through subsidies.
The goals and measures set by the local waste management plans for the cities of Belgrade and Novi Sad have been partially implemented, which leads to the fact that an efficient waste management system is not fully established. These two cities have not established the necessary infrastructure for the introduction of primary separation at the level of the entire city, so only 28 percent of citizens regularly separate recyclable waste into appropriate containers.
There is no accurate and reliable data on the production and management of municipal waste, which can lead to unjustified strategic decisions on the choice of waste management. 35 percent of local self-government units do not submit data on generated municipal waste, and 68% of local self-government units that submit data do not perform measurements, but submit data based on estimates. As many as 38 percent of LGUs do not submit data on the morphological composition of waste, and two percent of LGUs submitted data on the share of all types of municipal waste, which in total amounts to more than 100 percent.
According to Stefanović, the audit also showed that adequate coordination has not been established between the subjects of the packaging waste management system, which results in a low recycling rate and insufficient investment in the system of separate waste collection.
In order to improve the recyclable waste collection system, it is necessary to include informal collectors in the existing waste collection system. The methodology for calculating the municipal waste recycling rate from 2017 to 2019 has not been established, which may affect the reliability of the recycling rate data. The auditors call for decisive and coordinated action if Serbia wants to increase the amount of plastic packaging waste that it recycles by 2030.
Recommendations given by state auditors to the subjects of audit – the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Provincial Secretariat for Urbanism and Environmental Protection of AP Vojvodina, the cities of Belgrade and Novi Sad, should enable the establishment of a legislative and planning framework that will be the basis for effective and efficient plastic waste management, establishing a waste management system in accordance with the principles of circular economy, ie transition from linear to circular production and consumption, as well as monitoring the results of implemented plastic waste management measures, which would reduce environmental pressure. It is also necessary to conduct constant inspection supervision over the work of packaging waste management operators.
E2 portal (Recyclers of Serbia)
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