Serbia was one of the first to testing innovative technology

While Serbia is still deciding how to improve the collection of packaging waste, the testing of the first innovative technology, which accepts all types of materials at the same time – from PET plastic and cans, through glass to Tetra Pak packaging, has been completed in Zrenjanin. The entire recycling process is more efficient and reliable than with ordinary recycling machines, due to the advanced digital system and packaging pressing inside the device, which brings great savings in time and money.

Many developed countries, such as Belgium and Great Britain, are in the process of considering the same or similar solutions, and our country had the opportunity to be one of the first to test it, thanks to the “Smart Recycle” project, which was implemented through the develo PPP program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs cooperation and development (BMZ), which are jointly conducted by GIZ, Ball Packaging, Sekopak, Solagro Smart Recycling, Mercator-S and Reverse Logistics Group (RLG), in cooperation with NALED and the “Every Can Counts” program.

During the piloting of the project, consumers in Zrenjanin could return used packaging at 12 locations in the city, and through a special mobile phone application, they collected points for discounts on future purchases and other prizes that were awarded every month.

– Thanks to the partnership with the private sector, we were able to test and familiarize ourselves with the application of technology that many countries are already talking about and see what they can bring. I believe that the lessons learned will be used for the further development of the system at the national and international level – said Zoran Jakovljev, adviser at GIZ, at the final conference of the project, where the key results were presented.

Slobodan Krstović, director of sustainable development at NALED, pointed out that Serbia now has the opportunity to be a pioneer in modern packaging management, and the examples of developed European countries show that they are all moving in that direction.

– It is very important to raise the awareness of citizens about the importance of primary selection and recycling of waste. For six years, there has been talk of launching a new system, several studies and pilot projects have been carried out, of which this one is by far the most important, as it connects digitization and sustainable development. Digital systems are more transparent, which was shown in all the solutions advocated by NALED, such as electronic construction permits, the system for registering seasonal workers in agriculture, eInvoices and many others, and this is the message we will convey to decision makers – said Krstović.

According to Jelena Petljanski, manager of sustainability and regulatory affairs at Ball Packaging Europe, what makes this system unique is its advanced IT solution, which relies on serialization, that is, on a unique code for each unit of packaging, which ensures greater efficiency and transparency in to the recycling process.

– For the purposes of the project, a million codes were printed and manually added as a sticker, otherwise it could be an original part of the packaging, which still needs to be worked on, in order to improve the marking mechanisms and explore methods for automating this process – said Petljanski.

This code provides a lot of data – what is the life of the packaging, which materials are more or less recycled, where they end up and can be very useful for building a more efficient waste management system.

During the piloting of the “Smart Recycle” project, the director of Sekopak, Violeta Belanović, said that they cooperated with a large number of private partners, such as Coca-Cola HBC, Carlsberg, Tetra Pak, Red Bull and Knjaz Miloš. More than 40 brands of these companies were included in the smart collection system, and citizens who wanted to recycle and other packaging waste could put it in the bins for collection that was located next to the machines.

– As a packaging waste operator, it is crucial for Sekopak to examine how citizens react to different ways of separating packaging waste. Cooperation with the local self-government proved to be very important for the collection of larger quantities, and the promotional campaign and education of citizens are necessary – concluded Belanović.

Minister Vesić: Vranje is an example of good practice

As part of the “Clean Serbia” project, a total of 141 kilometers of sewage will be built on the territory of Vranje, said the Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Goran Vesić, and stated that the wastewater treatment plant in Vranje is an example of what all such facilities in Serbia will look like.

In Vranje, Vesić visited the sewage works in the village of Donje Trebešinje and the wastewater treatment plant in the Ćukovac settlement, and on that occasion said that Vranje is one of the few cities in Serbia with a fully operational wastewater treatment plant.

“Not only is it in operation, but here there is a fully rounded system that ends with the production of electricity and the complete processing of waste water that goes to South Morava in its pure form. The electricity they produce from biogas covers 50 percent of their electricity consumption that way, and now we will help them install solar panels so that they can be completely self-sustaining,” said Vesić.

He stated that this facility is an example of what all wastewater treatment facilities in Serbia will look like.

Vesić said that complete sewerage, 141 kilometers of sewerage, will be completed in Vranje in two years at the latest, and that in the meantime the Vranjska Banja will also begin, and that when it is completed, Vranje will be a city where all waste water will be completely processed and returned to nature in its pure form.

He pointed out that Vranje is an example of how the state and city can work together and how all municipalities and cities in Serbia will look like in the next ten years because, he added, they will all have to process wastewater in the same way.

Minister Vesić: From may the third phase of the project in Vlasotinac

The Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Goran Vesić, speaking about numerous projects in the Municipality of Vlasotince, expressed the expectation that from May or June 2024, the third phase of the “Clean Serbia” project will begin in this Municipality.

According to Minister Vesić, the aforementioned municipality has project documentation ready, which is a prerequisite for the realization of any project.

When it comes to sewerage, he reminded that the second phase of the “Clean Serbia” project has begun, within which a total of 3.5 billion euros have been secured so that 2.2 million people in Serbia will receive sewage.

“I expect that from May or June we will start the third phase of that project, in which Vlasotince has a good chance to enter, given that it has projects. After that, they will have a wastewater treatment plant and about 80 kilometers of sewerage, which means that around 95 percent of the municipality would be covered by sewerage,” said the minister.


The president of the municipality of Vlasotince, Bratislav Petrović, thanked Vesić for his support and added that he hopes that, with the help of the relevant ministry, they will be able to implement numerous infrastructure projects.

photo: mgsi

Liman 2: Change of traffic ways in Novi Sad

Due to the works on the construction of the sewage network at Liman 2, a decision was made to temporarily ban traffic on Dragiše Brašovana Street in Novi Sad, as well as at the intersection of Dragiše Brašovan and Resavska streets.

The decision of the Assembly of the City of Novi Sad entered into force today, and the change in the traffic regime will last until December 15 of the current year.

Works on the construction of the sewage network are carried out as part of the “Clean Serbia” project.

Krkić: With the “Clean Serbia” project, we are protecting the environment

Among the significant infrastructure projects in the Municipality of Ćićevac is the “Clean Serbia” project. The President of the Municipality of Ćićevac, Dr. Mirjana Krkić, pointed out that this project is also relevant from the aspect of environmental protection.

“With these projects, we wanted to improve the environment and provide the best possible conditions for our citizens,” said Dr. Krkić.

The municipality of Ćićevac signed an annex to the contract with the director of the Chinese “CRBC” company and the Ministry of Construction, Transport and of infrastructure, which begins the second phase of the “Clean Serbia” project, and includes the construction of a sewage network and a wastewater treatment plant.

72 kilometers of sewage network in the territory of Svilajnac

On the occasion of the implementation of the “Clean Serbia” project, a meeting of the municipal management with partners from the Chinese company CRBC and the Republic of Serbia was held in the municipality of Svilajnac. The “Clean Serbia” project includes the construction of about 72 kilometers of sewage network on the territory of the municipality of Svilajnac.

The contract for the first phase of works within this national ecological project was signed in May of this year, and it foresees the construction of a sewage network in the villages of Kušiljevo, Troponje, Subotica and Sedlare. The value of the works is around 30 million euros.

“So far, we have done major preparatory work, and we have agreed with the contractors that all the teams will be on the field by November 15. Sewerage in all four villages will be done simultaneously. This project will improve the quality of life of people, but also the protection of the environment,” said the president of Svilajnac Predrag Milanović and added that this is the biggest project in the field of infrastructure in the history of Svilajnac.

One also announced the second phase of this project, which would include the villages of Grabovac, Crkvenac, Dublje, part of Svilajnec and the construction of a wastewater treatment plant. When the entire project is finished, about 70 percent of the citizens of the municipality of Svilajnac will have regulated sewage.

The “Clean Serbia” example of investment in rural infrastructure

The President of the Provisional Authority of the City of Vranje, Dr. Slobodan Milenković, cited the “Clean Serbia” project as an example of investment in the development of the village and its infrastructure.

Milenković signed contracts on the allocation of donations within the project “Empowerment of young farmers in Vranje in 2023” and on that occasion he emphasized the constant efforts and aspirations of the city leadership to improve life in the countryside through various activities and projects and contribute to the youth staying in the countryside.

“According to the initiative of the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, who initiated the “Clean Serbia” project for the improvement of communal infrastructure in rural areas, which is implemented throughout of Serbia, our goal has always been to motivate young people to immediately get involved in agricultural production and build their future in the countryside,” said Milenković.

With the project “Clean Serbia” to a greater number of purifiers

According to assistant professor Anita Leovać-Maćerak from the Faculty of Science and Mathematics in Novi Sad, who deals with wastewater treatment, there are only 26 wastewater treatment plants in function, but also that in Serbia, only 20 percent of municipalities have communal waste water treatment facilities, while other large urban centers besides the capital, such as Novi Sad and Niš, do not have them either.

The absence of a wastewater treatment system is not the biggest problem at the moment, but also the fact, as stated by Leovać-Maćerak, that according to the construction of sewage infrastructure, Serbia belongs to the group of medium-developed countries, while in terms of wastewater treatment, it is at the very back. About 55 percent of the population (3.9 million inhabitants) is connected to sewage systems. Also, the largest number of existing wastewater treatment plants use outdated technologies, bearing in mind that they were built 30 or more years ago.

Although there are new ideas in the field of wastewater treatment, many of them are only theoretical for now. Until now, several forms of purification treatment have been accepted in the world, namely: primary treatment (removal of suspended substances by sedimentation, filtration and flotation), secondary treatment (removal of part of dissolved substances by biological or chemical means), tertiary treatment (removal residual pollution – non-biodegradable substances, pathogens, toxic substances), disinfection of purified water and, finally, treatment of sludge resulting from previous processes.

In the opinion of assistant professor Leovać Maćerak, the construction of the system itself is very expensive, which is one of the additional reasons for the low degree of realization of purification.

The purification system itself is preceded by the construction of a sewage network that would deliver the polluted water to the plant, which raises the price and value, and further slows down the process.

In recent years, many factories in Serbia have a legal obligation to have water purifiers, but often these systems are not sufficient, so the water released by the plants also has a certain degree of pollution, which we consider technological waste water.

Wastewater can also be communal, discharged by households, but also water coming from farms, medical institutions.

For a serious approach to solving this problem, the Government of Serbia launched the “Clean Serbia” project, which envisages not only the construction of a sewage network, but also a treatment plant.

“Clean Serbia” is the most ambitious program of environmental protection

The situation in the field of environmental protection is not satisfactory, and the most ambitious project that protects rivers is the Clean Serbia project, Predrag Bogdanović, president of the Association for water technology and sanitary engineering.

“The situation is not satisfactory, there is a lot of talk and planning about it, but little is done and realized on the ground.” There are many reasons for this and it is difficult to list them all. There is progress in the construction of regional landfills and several wastewater treatment plants, but it is still not enough. “The area of water quality should be included in the priorities, not only for the fulfillment of the requirements of Chapter 27 in EU accession, but for the sake of the people who live here and their future,” said Bogdanović.

In a statement for Industry, he expressed the view that it is necessary to increase the pace and efficiency in this area.

“Large investments are involved, so quality planning and design, selection of priorities, taking care of management and maintenance costs are extremely important, of course with adequate

notification and participation of the professional public. I would especially emphasize that for the construction of the WWTP, it is necessary to take into account the problems we face on the ground, namely the lack of professional staff who will manage those facilities and maintain them regularly, the lack of sewerage infrastructure, as well as the economic factor – affordability to users,” said Bogdanović.

In his opinion, the most ambitious program dealing with this topic is “Clean Serbia”.

“The most ambitious program in the field of construction of sewerage network and waste water treatment plant in the Republic of Serbia that is ongoing is called “Clean Serbia”, the implementation of which is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure. “This program was conceived on the basis of the need for increased ecological protection of waters, and the number of inhabitants covered is about two and a half million in 69 local self-government units,” said Bogdanović.

Central wastewater treatment plant for Novi Sad

“By implementing the “Clean Serbia” project, we are solving a decades-long problem in Novi Sad,” Novi Sad Mayor Milan Đurić announced on his Instagram profile.

Đurić says that he spoke with ministers Goran Vesić and Irena Vujović in the Government of the Republic of Serbia.

“I met today in the Government of the Republic of Serbia with ministers Goran Vesić and Irena Vujović. We have defined the next priority activities on the construction project of the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is being implemented as part of the “Clean Serbia” project, Đurić said.

In addition to the ministers, the meeting was attended by representatives of the contractor, the Chinese company CRBC.

“By implementing this project, we are solving a decades-old problem in our city! We are continuing to implement even more intensively the important infrastructure projects that will enable faster development of Novi Sad, better quality and better life in it”, pointed out Đurić.