On February 24 and 25, 2022, a training program Implementation of initiatives for the introduction of the concept of Zero Waste in local communities was held within the project of the Zero Waste Municipalities.

The aim of the training was capacity building of local actors in the field of waste management and environmental protection, by implementing strategies and practices to achieve zero waste, and adequate monitoring and reporting on their implementation.

This virtual event gathered 178 participants, including representatives of waste management utilities, local governments, system operators, waste collectors, social enterprises, NGOs, green entrepreneurs, academia, and other relevant institutions. 8 lecturers from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia shared their knowledge and experience with participants and presented a series of good practice based on the principles of zero waste.

The educational part of the training program was opened by Ms Šejla Mahmutović, President of the Center for Energy, Environment and Resources – CENER 21 (Sarajevo) and project manager, presenting the concept of zero waste at the local level as a functional tool for improving socio – economic development.

“As the circular economy is increasingly becoming a part of the main narratives and decision-making within Europe, the zero waste system is widely recognized as the main tool for implementing this concept into practical solutions at the local level. The essence of this concept is resource management, not waste management. It requires a complete change in material flows in communities and encouraging the population to develop sustainable natural cycles, whereby discarded material resources can be used in efficient ways. Zero waste means completely closing the material management loop while strengthening circularity in all areas and creating added value.” said Ms Mahmutović.

On the first day of the training, participants were familiarized with the technical part of strategies for achieving zero waste at the local level, through examples of best available practices and proven technologies in the field. During the second day, the lecturers focused on presenting strategies to support business models based on the principles of zero waste, the application of economic incentives, and communication methods to involve the local community in the zero waste transition process.

“Raising awareness, education and knowledge are the key to understanding the extended responsibility of producers who, when placing a product on the market, should take responsibility for their products in the sales phase, with special reference to their treatment in the waste management phase,” emphasized Mr Jezdimirović, President of the Association of Environment Engineering Group – EEG (Novi Sad) and regional waste management expert.

The educational training was concluded with the presentation of communication tools and strategies for involving public opinion in the local community in the process of introducing the principle of zero waste, and an interactive workshop during which participants created a communication strategy for presenting local initiatives.

All sessions during the training were followed by an interactive discussion with the participants, and some of the conclusions were:

  • Zero Waste is a set of local initiatives that contribute not only to the reduction of waste in local communities, but, in addition, includes the economic development of the community while improving the living standards of local people and their social characteristics.
  • Waste management utilities can play an important role in implementing and financially supporting the establishment of a sustainable system among different stakeholders.
  • The waste management system based on the separate collection is fundamental for the introduction of further zero waste practices at the local level.
  • Infrastructure measures in the field of waste management must be implemented in accordance with the waste management hierarchy and with the parallel implementation of economic instruments.
  • Circular economy requires a systematic approach and increased focus on specific areas of the “circle” – ie. repair, processing and resource sharing. This creates a good opportunity for small local businesses to enter new markets and create a competitive advantage.
  • Local businesses are key partners to municipalities and local communities in waste reduction activities and implementation of zero waste plans.
  • The work and efforts of local businesses need to be supported through: providing greater incentives to green businesses; inclusion of green criteria in public procurement; providing free space or low rents for zero-waste businesses, and by giving priority, support, and incentives to the zero-waste businesses driven by marginalized groups.
  • Adequate communication with the local community is not just logistical support for the implementation of the initiative. Only with the active participation of all stakeholders from one community, it is possible to implement the concept of zero waste in every household.

To encourage local actors to reduce waste and more rational use of resources through local zero waste initiatives, two documents were prepared within the project.:

The project Zero Waste Municipalities is funded by the European Union under the IPA Cross-Border Cooperation Program Serbia-Bosnia and Herzegovina 2014-2020 with the aim of achieving long-term resource efficiency in the waste management sector. Through the implementation of joint actions based on the principles of zero waste and circular economy, the project is jointly implemented by the Center for Energy, Environment, and Resource – CENER 21 from Sarajevo (BiH) and Environment Engineering Group – EEG from Novi Sad (Serbia). The project seeks to strengthen sustainable development in over 90 local self-government units in the cross-border area of Serbia – BiH. Implementation began on March 1, 2021, and will take 24 months. The contracting authority for the project is the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Serbia (CFCU). The total budget of the project is 413,608.44 EUR, of which the European Union provided 351,567.17 EUR in the grant.