When Clean Environment Brings the Eco-Friendly Municipality title

Photo: Office of the President of the Municipality

Čajetina municipality in Serbia has set a very clear and ambitious goal for itself. It is inclined to officially become the first eco-friendly municipality in Serbia. At the moment when our problems seem unsolvable, since we are fighting wild landfills, plastics in rivers and lakes, and at the beginning of the heating season with polluted air as well, the very notion of an eco-friendly municipality in Serbia seems like a pipe dream.

However, according to Milan Stamatović, the municipality of Čajetina president, they have a different situation. There are no wild landfills on their territory. Instead, there are wastewater reclamation facilities. Besides that, they are intensively working on waste management projects, they regularly organize afforestation activities, educate the young, and gladly listen to suggestions about environmental protection.

EP: How is the municipality of Čajetina going to become the first eco-friendly municipality in Serbia?

Milan Stamatović: We gave this promise to the locals, but all guests on Mount Zlatibor and our local self-governments management is working hard on fulfilling it. A wastewater treatment facility was recently opened, recycling islands have been set up in Zlatibor town, the problem of solid waste disposal was solved, and as you probably know, there are no wild landfills either. The effort to promote green (ecological) means of transport is a step towards that goal. One of such means is the Zlatibor Gondola, and since a little while back you can rent eco-cars as well. “Zlatibor” communal-public enterprise (CPE) from Čajetina and the local self-government are currently undertaking two projects: the first being the Primary Waste Selection project on the territory of Čajetina municipality and the second being the Afforestation of Zlatibor Transshipment Station project. In the case of the former, the local self-government and “Zlatibor” CPE are involved in the Support to Local Self-governments program on the way to the European Union, to improve environmental protection.

With the help of the Swedish government, the program is executed by the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SKGO) and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR). When a support package was granted to the local self-government of Čajetina in 2017, it had a clear goal – to become an ecological municipality. This meant establishing control over all kinds of waste in the entire municipality territory and reusing waste as a resource to support the sustainable development of the society. The goal is to build a recycling yard and recycling islands, to establish primary waste selection in the entire municipality territory, reduce the amount of biodegradable waste in all of the communal waste, build a safe waste management system adjacent to separate flows, and educate the citizens about the impact waste may have on humans and the environment. To achieve the goals set, the working group has created the Local Waste Management Plan, a strategic document defining numerous measures and activities.

EP: What does the Local Waste Management Plan foresee?

Photo: Municipality Čajetina

Milan Stamatović: There are five measures in the Local Waste Management Plan in total. Despite difficult circumstances, caused by the covid-19 pandemic, all the activities envisaged have already started. The first measure is related to strengthening the technical and human capacities of “Zlatibor” ECPE in Čajetina. This means providing adequately stationed communal infrastructure, regular communal equipment restoration, and strengthening human resources. These are all prerequisites for other measures and activities. The second measure is related to building an efficient and sustainable daily waste selection on-site, following the principle of separating dry waste from wet waste and handing high-quality dry waste over to the final selection center in the Duboko Regional Waste Management Centre.

The third measure covers waste treatment. The municipality of Čajetina is planning to have three ways of biodegradable waste management: (1) domestic composters both in urban parts, where appropriate, (2) for domestic animal feed in rural areas, and (3) a central composting facility. The fourth measure is building a safe collection system for special kinds of waste (PVO) and ensuring adequate separate flows under the law. The fifth measure is related to raising awareness about the influence of waste on humans and the environment, personal responsibility, mutual trust, and creating positive habits for all participants in the waste management process.

EP: What is currently being worked on in the Primary Waste Selection project?

Milan Stamatović: We are currently working on conceiving the project and getting a construction permit for a recycling yard. This is an area where all kinds of waste will be safely transported to, accepted in special containers, and transmitted to authorized operators for final treatment, all under the law. We are about to finish a feasibility study that provides solutions for choosing the right technology and capacity for the central composting facility. The composting facility is intended for wet waste treatment (green waste from yards and public spaces, food waste, sanitary towels, baby diapers, used one-off tissues, all kinds of ashes, cigarette butts) and waste sludge from used communal water treatment facilities. For the time being, we have built three of them, and are planning to finish another two recycling islands by the end of the year. This is an area built for the temporary collection of primarily selected waste, stored in special containers, before being forwarded to the recycling yard.

The municipality of Čajetina provided for the location (Bregovi landfill) for the safe disposal of construction waste and inert waste from the demolition of buildings. We are currently in the final phase of feasibility study development and preparation of projects for authorization grants for the construction of intermediary facilities for transshipment of animal waste, which is to be transported into authorized rendering plants. We are intensively working on building a business facility for “Zlatibor” CPE, covering: an administrative facility, workshops for communal equipment maintenance, garage and container facilities, a temporary reception-transshipment station for all kinds of waste under the responsibility of ”Zlatibor” CPE (until a recycling yard has been built) and aggregate storage for the winter road maintenance service. All of these are only the prerequisites to initialize a primary waste selection system that is to start next year.

Prepared by: Milica Radičević

Read the story in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine RECYCLING.

Translator Vesna Savić