In order to achieve specific results in the area of environmental protection and open Chapter 27 in the process of Serbia’s accession to the EU related to this area, it is of vital importance that the state and the business sector act together.
How to utilise the expertise of the corporate sector and adapt administrative procedures with the aim of improving environmental issues is the topic of the interview with Dragan Lupšić, Chairperson of the Environmental Committee of American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham).
Although the “youngest” AmCham committee, the Environmental Committee has already succeeded in initiating numerous issues in this area. How member companies cooperate in joint activities?
The Committee was established less than a year ago, when around twenty companies gathered with the aim of focusing on general improvement of the environmental protection system in Serbia, through support to the Government in this challenging and financially demanding area.
The corporate sector has vast experience and expertise, and numerous international companies operating here can share their accomplishments from developed countries, experience from day-to-day business, which means that we have enough arguments and practice to offer applicable and realistic solutions.
This is a vast area and we believe that there are many open issues. What is your major focus?
We have focused on improving the legal framework in the area of ecology and environmental protection, intending to eliminate unnecessary administrative burdens. We monitor the implementation of the existing legal framework in the area of ecology and cooperate with the state bodies and other stakeholders on adequate transfer and implementation of the EU laws.
The Environmental Committee advocates for the improvement of the legislation, introduction of the principles of circular economy, advancement of the waste management system, inspection control, and modernisation of the system of financing in this area
We also promote and prepare grounds for the introduction of the circular economy concept. Our plan is also to initiate public awareness campaigns in the upcoming period, related to the promotion of environmental issues.
Which specific activities in this period would you distinguish?
First of all, we have gathered all the stakeholders in this area, organisations dealing with waste collection, recycling companies, relevant representatives of the sector and the authorities and the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the aim of constructive exchange of opinions about the best possible solutions for packaging waste management in Serbia.
There are numerous challenges in this area, where do you see room for improvement?
It is true that there are many challenges, especially bearing in mind that in the EU accession process we have to accomplish numerous tasks related to environmental protection and climate change.
This primarily refers to the improvement of the legislation and the principle of extended responsibility of producers in managing specific waste flows. Unfair competition, non-compliance with the system and high environmental taxes burdening the companies striving to follow standards in the area of environmental protection are also ongoing issues that require progress.
What does the company where you run the communications sector do in that regard?
Coca-Cola HBC Serbia has already been recognised as the leader in the area of sustainable business operations in Serbia, as well as at the global level, and we regularly present results in local sustainability reports.
The impact of our business on the environment is a significant parameter which we carefully measure and, owing to the results achieved in the area of environmental protection, our company is the first in the country to have obtained the Golden EWS (European Water Stewardship) certificate.
Furthermore, for the third consecutive year, we have won the title of the leader in the beverages sector by the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices.