The amount of recycled glass packaging in the Western Balkans region is still far from the level prescribed by the European Union. While the EU member countries have set a goal of recycling 70% of glass per year, the target amount in Serbia is 44%, 30% in Northern Macedonia, and 12% in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This was highlighted at the regional online conference presenting the project "Management of glass packaging in the Western Balkans". The project was initiated by the German Development Cooperation - GIZ, in cooperation with packaging waste operators - Sekopak, Pakomak, and Ekopak. The project is being conducted in Serbia, Northern Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, implemented by NALED, the Regional Development Agency for Economic Development of Herzegovina (REDAH) and the Association of the Units of Local Self-Government (ZELS) from Northern Macedonia.
In the EU accession process, Germany is fully committed to supporting partners in the Western Balkans in addressing environmental challenges. In the waste management sector, many countries in Europe face numerous difficulties, especially when it comes to packaging waste. These challenges cannot be overcome by one actor because they require a united force and a strong and lasting partnership. That is why German Development Cooperation supports our partners to enable a cost-effective glass recycling value chain. We hope to create a better future together - said Christian Schilling, Head of the Development Cooperation at the German Embassy in Belgrade.
It was pointed out that in order to improve the overall conditions for establishing an economic value chain of glass recycling in the region, it is crucial to increase the amount of collected glass, as well as to set preconditions for the reuse of glass waste.
- We started the project ambitiously and about 1,000 recycling containers will arrive in Sombor, Nis, Bihac, Novi Travnik, Stip, and Ilinden this month. The complete equipment will be installed by the end of March, and with our partner operators, I am sure that we will effortlessly achieve one of the main goals, which is to increase the collected quantities in these municipalities by 20% - said Violeta Jovanović, Executive Director of NALED.
- Given Sekopak's experience in this area, the project "Management of glass packaging in the Western Balkans" is a logical extension of our many years of work. Also, we want to make a guide that will be used by local governments across the country and the region.
Since 2012, we have been implementing glass packaging management projects and we were the first to set standards for the HORECA sector in Belgrade. After that, the local governments themselves started appealing to us to establish cooperation and collect as much glass and other packaging as possible - said Violeta Belanović Kokir, CEO of SEKOPAK.
- Within the project, 150 special-purpose containers will be placed in Sombor - in the city itself, in catering facilities, but also in suburban settlements. This will be a continuous process, and will not be relevant only in addresses and gatherings like the one we are attending now, so I expect that all of us will start changing our attitude towards the environment, first in our own backyard, and further expand our activities over time. As a result, we will have a cleaner environment, a healthier, richer, and more satisfied society - said Antonio Ratković, the mayor of Sombor.
To support the packaging waste management system in Serbia, especially glass waste, Apatin Brewery, with the support of Sekopak, has invested significant funds for the project in the amount of 150,000 euros.
- We care that the percentage of collected and recycled glass packaging reaches the goals set by the project. I hope that other companies will follow our lead, because it is in everyone's interest to work together to increase the rate of collection and recycling of glass packaging - said Svetlana Vukelic, Legal and CA Director at Apatin Brewery.
The conference brought together all project partners, as well as the mayors of the pilot municipalities, who concluded that it was crucial to take a step towards a profitable circular economy in the region. The glass packaging management project is conducted within the development cooperation program with the private sector - develoPPP.de funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
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