Inos Balkan, as a part of the Viohalco Group, monitors regulatory framework and technology developments closely and integrates them into its business operations, because the company is interested in establishing a transparent, secure and efficient procedure for inspecting the quality of raw materials
Investments in recycling Infrastructure, as well as technology transfers and exchanges of knowledge, could benefit Serbia’s secondary raw materials industry the most, as well as facilitating Serbia’s harmonisation with the European acquis. Here Inos Balkan GM Iosif Vangelatos explains how that is achieved.
How does implementation of the European Green Deal impact the secondary raw materials industry within the EU and, more specifically, how does it influence the Serbian market?
The European Green Deal is a comprehensive policy initiative of the European Union that aims to make the EU climate-neutral by 2050 and that promotes sustainable economic growth. While the Green Deal focuses primarily on environmental sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it has several implications for the secondary raw materials industry within the EU, but also in markets beyond the EU, including Serbia’s.
Combating illicit economic activities in the secondary raw materials sector requires a multifaceted approach involving legislation, enforcement, technology and international cooperation
The Green Deal promotes circular economy principles, which prioritise the recycling and reuse of materials, and we should therefore expect to see increased demand for secondary raw materials. End users in all industries demand green products, while major manufacturers are striving to assess their entire supply chain in order to secure the minimising of their environmental footprint. Furthermore, financial institutions are including environmental aspects in their terms and conditions of financing. Investments in recycling Infrastructure, as well as technology transfers and exchanges of knowledge, could benefit the Serbian secondary raw materials industry the most, as well as facilitating Serbia’s harmonisation with the European acquis.
Which key prerequisites do you consider essential for attracting higher flows of foreign direct investment into the Serbian secondary raw materials market?
Attracting higher FDI into any sector of the Serbian economy, including the secondary raw materials industry, would require a combination of many parameters that would secure an environment conducive to business. In order to flourish and develop more business opportunities, the secondary raw materials sector needs a clear regulatory framework, transparency and the rule of law, appropriate transportation infrastructure, a skilled workforce, public awareness of environmental issues and, of course, appropriate financial tools.
Over the last ten years, we’ve been witnessing the disinvestment of at least three major European recycling companies in Serbia. It is difficult to attribute these disinvestments to specific parameters among those I just mentioned, but I am confident that securing those parameters will create a more attractive business field for future FDI in our sector.
In the context of the secondary raw materials sector, what level of vulnerability to illicit economic activities exists and which strategies should be adopted to address this challenge effectively?
The secondary raw materials sector can be vulnerable to various illicit economic activities, including illegal dumping, tax evasion, smuggling recyclables and the unauthorised collecting and processing of recyclable materials. These illicit activities have significant negative environmental, social and economic impacts, and thus every country needs to make addressing them a high priority. Combating illicit economic activities in the secondary raw materials sector requires a multifaceted approach involving legislation, enforcement, technology and international cooperation. I would emphasise the following:
Strengthen Regulatory Frameworks: enhancing and enforcing regulations related to waste management, recycling and the secondary raw materials sector, focusing on waste management transparency and traceability;
Efficient sorting and separation, such as automated optical sorting systems and artificial intelligence algorithms, enable the more efficient separation and utilisation of materials
Environmental Audits: conducting regular environmental audits and inspections of recycling facilities and waste management operations to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and to additionally foster collaboration between government agencies, law enforcement, industry associations and environmental organisations in order to share information and intelligence on illicit activities;
Licensing and Permits: implementing a simplified (one step, if possible) and transparent licensing system for recycling facilities to ensure that only legitimate operators are allowed to participate in the sector;
Cross-Border Cooperation: collaborating with neighbouring countries to combat illegal cross-border activities related to recycling and trade in secondary raw materials.
How do you envisage technological advancements influencing the landscape of the secondary raw materials industry; and how are you preparing to embrace such changes?
Before I reply to your question, please allow me to note that we no longer need to envisage the influence of technological advancements on the secondary raw materials industry, as the 4th Industrial Revolution has already arrived.
Technological advancements are already playing a significant role in shaping the new way that the secondary raw materials industry operates. Efficient sorting and separation, such as automated optical sorting systems and artificial intelligence algorithms, enable the more efficient separation and utilisation of materials. When it comes to waste tracking and traceability, block chain and other digital ledger technologies could be used to create transparent and traceable supply chains for recyclables, enabling higher levels of accountability and the more efficient combating of illegal activities. Moreover, robotics and automation are also being applied to recycling processes. Robots can perform tasks like picking and sorting materials, especially in environments that are hazardous or require high precision. These are just a few examples of how technology is creating greater efficiency, sustainability and profitability in the secondary raw materials industry, as well as reshaping the business field in our industry.
We are monitoring those developments closely and our group is gradually integrating most of them into our processing of secondary raw materials. We are interested in establishing a transparent, secure and efficient procedure for quality inspections of our raw materials.