Nevena Čolić Mohora, Director of Miteco:

It`s Not About Waste, It`s About People

The waste market is underdeveloped in Serbia compared to EU countries. This is a result of the current state of the waste industry, but also the technological capacity of operators, some of which unjustifiably possess licenses and participate in the management of hazardous waste.

What are the most important conclusions of the panel discussion of company Miteco, which was entitled “A new chapter in the management of hazardous waste” and was held within the framework of the ISWA World Congress 2016?

“It’s not about waste, it’s about people”– is the message that prevailed throughout the conference and left a strong impression on participants. That message was also reflected in the topics discussed during our panel on hazardous waste.

First and foremost, recycling electronic waste is not only a question of protecting the environment, but rather also a significant economic issue, because this area creates opportunities for new jobs and contributes to economic development. And when it comes to systemic issues people also decide, whether they will apply the laws and standards that exist. Because of that, it is necessary to find a sustainable model for improving the waste market, respecting the principles of the preservation of human health and the environment.

To what extent can the private sector contribute to improving the system for the management of hazardous waste in Serbia?

A problem is represented by unfair competition and the existence of the grey market. In order for the private sector to have a real contribution to improving the system, it is essential for there to be an applicable legal framework that will be implemented. This is the main precondition for investments in infrastructure and the entry of significant private capital in this area.

Considering the experience of Miteco as a company, what needs to be done in order for medical waste for example, to be treated safely?

Some 10,000 tonnes of medical waste is produced on the territory of Serbia annually, of which only 2,000 tonnes is processed properly.

The innovative part of the project for which we received the title of National Champion for Corporate and Environmental Sustainability was the river transport of hazardous waste that we realised for the first time in Serbia, and we are still the only company to have used this model of transport

The system for the treatment of medical waste that currently exists in Serbia is not fully rounded off. Operators who manage facilities for the treatment of infectious medical waste complete the process with sterilisation and disposal at landfill sites, but that is not the final step in waste treatment. An additional problem is represented by pathological and anatomical wastes, blood units and the like. With this in mind, the logical procedure that follows is the process of incineration of waste, which it is necessary to start applying in Serbia, due to the need for proper waste disposal.

Miteco was declared the 2016/17 National Champion by European Business Awards, a programme that rewards the most successful companies in Europe. Which project led to you being nominated for this award and what does this prestigious recognition mean to you?

The Miteco project in which they recognised the principles of ethics, business fairness and sustainability is the elimination of historical pollution at the Fiat car factory in Kragujevac. The pollution originated from PCB oils, and the project encompassed the removal of soil and other construction materials contaminated with PCB from 13 transformer stations. Of a total of 33,000 participants, 636 national champions were selected from 34 European countries, and Miteco showed through this award that Serbia can have its representative in European competition in the field of environmental protection.