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Dragan Rajković, Tetra Pak Regional Sustainability Director, Europe & Central Asia

Fully Committed To Serbia’s Green Transition

It’s been 70 years since we started producing a beverage carton that should save more than it costs. Serbia is one of the key spots on our global map, and our Gornji Milanovac factory is one of the best in class.

The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated how important it is to have a resilient food system and to make food safe and available everywhere. Serbia and its major food manufacturers have done an excellent job of keeping the dairy and juice infrastructure going during these very challenging times.

Today, more than ever, our business is very dedicated to climate neutrality, biodiversity preservation and effective waste management. Plant-based raw materials, such as wood and sugar cane, are essential to our low-carbon circular economy approach.

The recycling rate of beverage cartons in Europe has increased from just over 5% in 1993 to more than 51% in 2019. And our aim is to collect 90% of all used beverage cartons by 2030.

AN EFFECTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR SERBIA

Over the past 10 years, we have worked hard to increase the level of beverage carton recycling in Serbia and invested significantly in collection systems and a local paper mill. However, if we want more recycling, there must be more waste collection supported by adequate infrastructure. Increasing the collection rate is possible through improved Extended Producer Responsibility, as a scheme based on the shared responsibility model for everyone in the value chain and, as part of that, Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) like the one the Serbian government aims to introduce. In practise, a DRS system would require Serbian consumers to pay a small deposit at the point of purchase, which they would get back when returning the empty container for recycling. The best results are achieved when this includes all packaging formats. Our recent project in Kragujevac shows how a DRS system can also reward consumers via public transportation or mobile communications financial recompense.

With innovations in reverse vending machines and smart bin technologies and digitalisation, Serbia has an opportunity to set up a broad DRS that will improve packaging waste collection and recycling results significantly

With innovations in reverse vending machines and smart bin technologies and digitalisation, Serbia has an opportunity to set up a broad DRS that will improve packaging waste collection and recycling results significantly. A deposit system model needs to be set up in a broad way from the perspective of products types, packaging material types and packaging formats and sizes.

The introduction of so-called “smart” or “digital” DRS, with broad scope, allows high collection results and the high quality of various collected packaging as a raw material for recyclers. A broad system will result in reduced costs per unit, reduced consumer confusion on how to contribute to the collection, a much higher influence on achieving climate goals and conditions to use collected material as recycled content for new production, which will also support the development of local recycling capacities.

Tetra Pak welcomes the government’s commitment to sustainability and looks forward to helping Serbia achieve its ambitious environmental goals.

The estimate of packaging placed on the Serbian market in 2020 is at 66 kg per capita, while the projection for 2030 is 78 kg per capita. The main recommendations for the Serbian packaging waste management system include: the obligation for households to sort waste, the inclusion of the informal collection sector, ensuring equal rules for all actors, a well-functioning monitoring system and for the full net cost of waste collection, sorting and treatment to be covered by all producers and brand owners.

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