The final conference of the "Glass packaging management in the Western Balkans" project was held in Belgrade

On the occasion of the completion of the project "Management of glass packaging in the Western Balkans" in Belgrade on December 14, 2022, the final conference was held attended by project holders from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia .

On the conference, the results of the project were presented, as well as established guidelines for the continuation of the establishment of an efficient system for the collection and recycling of packaging waste.

The conference was opened by Violeta Jovanović, executive director of NALED Serbia, Igor Vukašinović, general manager of Apatinska pivara and member of the Board of Directors of NALED Serbia, and Daniele Funke, director of GIZ Serbia, with the introductory topic "Glass packaging management and the environment".

After that, the retrospective of the project and the experiences of project implementation in the pilot municipalities was discussed, and the results were presented by Violeta Belanović Kokir, general director of SEKOPAK (Serbia), Filip Ivanovski, director of PAKOMAK (North Macedonia) and Amela Hrbat, director of EKOPAK (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

This was followed by a panel discussion on the topic: "Establishment of an efficient system of collection and recycling of glass packaging in local governments - challenges and recommendations from the field", and the panelists were:

Moderator: Ivana Pavlović, operations manager SEKOPAK Serbia

Zorica Bilić, national coordinator GIZ ORF MMS

Kristina Cvejanov, regional expert on the project

Ivica Sivrić, director of the Association for Economic Development REDAH Bosnia and Herzegovina

Research results: The effects of a marketing campaign on raising citizens' awareness of the importance of collecting and recycling glass packaging were presented by Sanela Veljkovski Mandić, GIZ ORF MMS and Sanja Knežević Mitrović, NALED Serbia.

At the end, the representatives of the municipalities and cities that participated in this project were presented with Awards for their contribution to better management of glass packaging in the Western Balkans. The recognition was received on behalf of the city of Bihać by assistant mayor Vildana Zulić, on behalf of the Municipality of Novi Travnik by expert advisor Višnja Čolić.

When there are special containers in their neighborhood, citizens are more than ready to separate household waste. Thus, the installation of 1,400 recycling bells increased the collection of glass waste by as much as 90% in 14 pilot cities and municipalities in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia, which participated in the project "Management of glass packaging in the Western Balkans. Recycling bells were received by Novi Travnik, Konjic, Ilidža and Bihać from BiH, Skoplje (city municipalities of Aerodrom and Gazi Baba), Ilinden, Bitolj, Tetovo, Đevđelija and Štip from North Macedonia, as well as Sombor, Niš, Kragujevac, Varvarin, Belgrade and Novi Sad.

At the final conference of the project, it was pointed out that the financial unsustainability of establishing a glass recycling system is currently the biggest obstacle. Glass recycling factories are needed because they do not exist in any of the three countries and they export this valuable resource. Primary selection at the municipal level is still in its infancy, and disposal fees are low or non-existent, so it is more profitable to send the packaging to the garbage dump, and their increase is necessary.

We face a big challenge because the EU has set the goal of recycling 75% of glass packaging by 2030. We are still far from fulfilling this ambitious task, because in Serbia about 44% of the quantities put on the market are recycled, in Macedonia about 30% and in Bosnia and Herzegovina 12%. It is necessary that we prescribe target quantities for recycling and penalties for non-fulfillment at the state and local level, strengthen the inspection control over waste management and make disposal at landfills the least favorable option - said the executive director of NALED Violeta Jovanović.

The director of GIZ in Serbia, Daniela Funke, pointed out that German development cooperation through numerous initiatives, which it implements with the private and civil sector, supports countries in the region to improve waste management, encourage the development of a circular economy and an economy that is climate neutral in order to reach ambitious goals EU until 2030. "This project laid the foundations for reducing the costs of recycling, processing and reusing glass waste in the region," Funke concluded.

That providing infrastructure is a key step was also shown by a survey in which almost 60% of citizens in three countries confirmed that they do not separate waste because they do not have the conditions to do so, while only a fifth points out that they do not have the habit of recycling. What would further motivate them, above all, is greater proximity to containers for collecting different types of waste, as well as the introduction of incentives for returning packaging, are the findings of the research presented at the conference "The bell is calling you - recycle glass".

The project "Management of glass packaging in the Western Balkans" was initiated by the German development cooperation implemented by GIZ, together with operators of packaging waste - the companies Sekopak, Pakomak and Ekopak. The project was implemented by NALED, the Regional Development Agency of Herzegovina (REDAH) and the Union of Local Self-Government Units (ZELS) from North Macedonia.

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