The Ministry of Environmental Protection has identified – in addition to air pollution – proper waste management and resolving the improvement of wastewater collection and treatment systems as priority areas and the biggest problems confronting the environment
The systemic resolving of these issues is crucial for Serbia, as it represents an investment in the future of all of us and our environment. Resolving these issues begins with the adopting and applying of the best legislative regulations and proven technological solutions, which is one of the basic jobs being dealt with by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
Minister Irena Vujović has noted repeatedly that, since she took over the ministry, we have been committed to this work than ever before, both when it comes to waste management and wastewater treatment, but also when it comes to the wider area of protecting water from pollution generally.
REGIONAL WASTE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
When it comes to waste, one of the key directions in the proper management of waste is the establishment of modern regional systems for waste management in those parts of the country envisaged in the Strategy of Waste Management.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection plays an active role in the implementation of this work – not only in the legislative domain, but also in the segment of implementation. We started this work by preparing all essential documentation for the constructing of regional waste management systems, which also implies securing a financial package for the actual construction of eight new regional centres that will, according to the plan, start being built in 2021.
These centres satisfy the highest national and international criteria in the field of waste management and environmental protection, and their use will bring an end to negative waste disposal practises, whilst ensuring the proper treatment of waste and its more widespread use as a resource.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection finances and assists units of local self-government in preparing projects for the remediation of old, unsanitary municipal and city dumps/landfill sites. We also support cities and municipalities when it comes to financing or co-financing works on the actual closure and remediation of landfill sites, where we should emphasise in particular dumps in Čačak, Kraljevo, Trstenik and Prijepolje. Work has already begun at these landfill sites, some of which are already at an advanced stage of preparations for closure and reclamation.
TRANSFER STATIONS AND RECYCLING
It is also important to mention the design and construction of transfer stations [or resource recovery centres] for local governments, in order to ensure the proper treatment of waste. Using such stations will enable local governments to bring an end to the dumping of waste at old, unsanitary dumps, because they will be able to adequately and economically justify the transporting of such waste to sanitary landfill facilities and new regional centres that treat waste in an appropriate way. Distinguishing themselves in that role in particular are, for example, the transfer stations in Nova Varoš, Knjaževac and Požega.
The construction of wastewater treatment plants will represent a revolutionary result in the domain of environmental protection. And this is especially so if we consider that our goal is not only to build plants for the existing network, but also to construct a parallel sewerage network
Viewed over the long term, the goal of the Ministry is for there to be modern waste treatment and recycling centres regionally, but also in every city and municipality, as well as developed systems for waste collection and separation for all citizens. The goal is to create such a system that ensures not a single gram of waste ends up dumped in the natural environment, rather that waste is treated in accordance with the highest world standards and reused.
Another major topics in Serbian is the management of hazardous waste. Representing one of the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s extremely important projects in 2021 is the removal of hazardous historical waste and hazardous waste dumped inadequately in the natural environment.
WE’RE SOLVING THE PROBLEM OF WASTEWATER
The Ministry’s activities are also aimed, in the same way and with full focus, at resolving the problem of wastewater, by expanding the collection system and building wastewater treatment plants.
The Ministry has also done great work on identifying and analysing the current situation and establishing priorities in the area of wastewater. We can state with pride that we’ve managed to prepare and financially support the preparation of complete project documentation for, or in coordination with, more than 30 units of local self-government, and then also to prepare for the implementation of these projects on the ground.
With the securing of a financing package from the Development Bank of the Council of Europe, the Ministry has also provided the necessary funds for the construction of treatment plants in the municipalities and cities where preparation works have been done, which are planned for construction in 2021. The construction of wastewater treatment plants will represent a revolutionary result in the domain of environmental protection. And this is especially so if we consider that our goal is not only to build plants for the existing network, but also to construct a parallel sewerage network. The objective is to bring sewage connections to every user in the cities and municipalities where these plants are being built, and for all wastewater to be treated.
Our plans are ambitious, but we have no intention of stopping there. The design, preparation and construction of these systems will represent an enduring activity and long-term plan of the Ministry in the period ahead, and will remain so until the completion of the process of developing systems for collecting and treating wastewater in all cities and municipalities in Serbia.
The activities mentioned herein represent a great challenge, because most of this infrastructure is being introduced to Serbia for the first time, and multidisciplinary factors, as well as many technical, legal and operational issues, exist for each of them. However, with an awareness of the importance of the work we do, both for the state and society, but also for the health of our environment and all of us, we are ready to exert continuous efforts to conclude this great job as soon as possible. Our goal is to successfully implement the aforementioned plans as soon as possible, and to resolve all problems – as we’ve done to date – with maximum efficiency and professionalism.