Waste management, circular economy and green job opportunities

Project description

Title: Climate Sensitive Waste Management (DKTI)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Serbia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Environmental Protection
Overall term: 2018 to 2020



In April 2018 the European Commission approved the Circular Economy Package, relevant for waste management policies. This package fosters reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling materials and products out of waste. The aim is to look beyond waste and to close circular economy (CE) loops. All resources need to be managed more efficiently throughout their life cycle. Using resources more efficiently will also bring new growth and job opportunities. Better eco-design, waste prevention and reuse can bring net savings for EU businesses of up to EUR 600 billion, while also reducing total annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

Serbia is slowly modernising its management of waste. The mandate for waste management is delegated to local self-governments and their Public Utility Companies (PUCs) or private enterprises. The current strategic approach of the Government of Serbia foresees 27 waste management regions, while it still revises the 2010 Waste Management Strategy. 

Currently, the situation in the waste management sector in Serbia is unsatisfactory. Only 70 per cent of the population in Serbia; mainly concentrated in urban areas, is covered by an organised municipal waste collection service. The recycling rate for municipal waste is below five per cent. Operational challenges apart from low collection coverage also include low fee collection efficiency, low cost recovery, the lack of adequate infrastructure for collection, treatment and safe disposal. 

Adopted national waste management legislation is faced with significant barriers on the implementation level. Although primary separation in Serbia is regulated by law, recycling does not work in practice. Collection of recyclable materials from municipal waste is performed mostly by informal collectors. They had been pioneering to a certain extent with recycling services. Nevertheless, a formalisation of recycling services is needed to establish modern waste management practice which should integrate vulnerable groups without depriving them from their right to earn a decent living.

Most municipalities dispose waste at their own non-sanitary landfills. Only seven sanitary landfills exist in Serbia and it is estimated that there are about 4,000 illegal dumpsites. Nevertheless, depositing non-inert waste at landfills; whether sanitary or not, release GHG harmful to the climate. Estimations based on the National Environmental Approximation Strategy suggest that implementation of modern waste management as foreseen by national legislation will require a total investment cost of EUR 900 million.


The Serbian Ministry of Environmental Protection in close cooperation with local self-governments is implementing circular economy oriented waste management policies as well as introducing innovative models for the inclusion of informal resource collectors within municipal waste management systems.



At the national level, the “Climate Sensitive Waste Management (DKTI)” project advises and implements measures with national and other institutions, including: Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, Ministry of Demography and Population Policy - Inter-Ministerial Working Group on the Implementation of the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Serbian Environmental Protection Agency, Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, representatives of Republic Union of Independent Raw Materials Collectors, other vulnerable groups and recycling associations in improving the framework conditions to introduce CE. 

At the regional and local levels, the project supports three waste management regions (Kruševac, Lapovo and Novi Sad) in implementation of pilot projects reflecting the above-mentioned challenges in introduction of CE practices in waste management. At the same time, the project enhances their administrative capacity to establish informal collectors’ integration and inter-municipal cooperation for integrated waste management services. 
The Project contributes to three major components focusing on:

  • policy and strategy consultations at the national level improving the strategic framework conditions by fostering a climate sensitive CE approach in waste management;
  • piloting CE model approaches on regional level in cooperation with the private sector to reduce GHG emissions;
  • introducing “best practices” for a CE oriented waste management at local level to mitigate GHG emissions.