Low public awareness on the benefits and importance of waste prevention, reuse and recycling, combined with inadequate policies and lack of investment in separate waste collection and treatment infrastructure, has led Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to dispose of 95% of their waste and thus irreversibly to a loss of valuable resources, while creating pressure on the community, the economy and the environment.

The European Union has recognized these problems and financially supported the implementation of the project Zero Waste Municipalities (b/c/s. Opštine sa nula otpada) implemented within IPA cross-border cooperation program Serbia – Bosnia and Herzegovina 2014-2020 with the main purpose to achieve long-term resource efficiency in the waste management sector in the cross-border area.

By implementing common activities based on the principles of zero waste and circular economy, the project aims to strengthen sustainable development in over 90 municipalities in the cross-border area between ​​Serbia and BiH.

The project is designed to meet the needs of local actors involved in the provision of waste management services through the introduction of a new, sustainable concept in which waste is a resource and which contributes to socio – economic development through sustainable practices.

Six pilot municipalities from the cross-border area between ​​Serbia and BiH will serve as an example of good practice through which the general public and stakeholders in the sector will get the opportunity to meet the benefits of introducing the concept of zero waste, which has already taken root in EU countries. Activities that will be conducted in the area and in cooperation with local actors responsible for waste management include:

  • Development of “Zero waste action plans”;
  • Preparation of technical – investment documentation for the zero waste concept;
  • Development of interactive GIS maps with locations of illegal landfills;
  • Training program for representatives of the utility company in charge of waste management and local communities representatives on separate waste collection;
  • Joint study visit to the Regional Waste Management Center in Maribor, Slovenia;
  • Procurement and installation of equipment to improve waste management services and increase recycling, which includes the procurement of containers for recyclable dry waste, containers for other mixed waste and composters for organic, wet household waste;
  • Cleaning of the selected illegal landfill and installation of waste containers with a capacity of 7 m3.

For educational institutions in the cross-border area, the preparation and implementation of extracurricular activities is planned, which will support education of students and their teachers about the concept of circular economy in which recycling and reuse are recognized as a new business opportunity.

In addition, the project includes capacity building for all relevant stakeholders in the sector through the organization of training programs and conferences and the preparation of guidelines on best practices with the aim of improving knowledge about the concept of zero waste and the principles of the circular economy.

The project started on March 1st, 2021 and during the 24 months of project life, it will be implemented with joint forces of Center for Energy, Environment and Resources – CENER 21 from Sarajevo (BiH) and Environmental Engineering Group – EEG from Novi Sad (Serbia). The total budget of the project is 413,608.44 EUR, of which the European Union provided 351,567.17 EUR in grants. The contracting authority for this project is the Ministry of Finance, Sector for Contracting and Financing of Programs from European Union Funds (CFCU) of Republic of Serbia.