Serbia needs help from EU: Environmental standards have to be improved

Illegal scrap yard (Foto: Scholz Holding GmbH)

Rheinbreitbach — „The main demand in the next years is to close thousands of illegal landfilling sites in Serbia, if there should be a real chance for an access to the EU,“ said Dr. Beate Kummer, Scholz Holding GmbH, in a presentation at the Eco Expo Fair during the International Conference „Circular Economy and Waste Management” on March 19th-20th. Scholz Holding invested 20 Mio. € since 2001 to improve the environmental standards at the sites in Serbia. Right now there is no legal certainty for recyclers and no fair competition.

It is estimated that 10 times more illegal operators than legal acting recyclers are working in gray zone. Approximately 3.000 small illegal scrap yards are operating in metal scrap recycling industry, beside that there are more than 2.000 illegal dumping sites for waste. It is a fact, that inspectors do not control that grey market, only legal operators are visited by authorities. Another major problem is, that within ports that are used for exporting recycling material, metal scrap trading companies started their illegal operations. Illegal acting companies use ports for storage and handling scrap, which reduces their costs. High amount of scrap trading in Serbia is done with cash, in the gray zone with significant tax evasion.

The biggest problem in Serbia is that there are laws and other standards, already harmonized with EU legislation, but they are not applied. For example, Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection give right now a financial support for all waste streams, except for waste vehicles. As well as for other waste streams recovery of end of life vehicles is economically unprofitable. That problem exists already since 2012. Before 2012 importers of vehicles paid fees for the fund for Environmental Protection which was later distributed for the recovery of end of life vehicles.

Since Serbia got a new Government in 2012 the responsibility for the environmental sector was integrated in the Ministry of Agriculture. Afterwards the market and regulatory conditions in Serbia worsened. Declining local scrap market combined with the integration of Environmental Protection Ministry into the Ministry of Agriculture a regulatory vacuum appeared which spurred entry of illegal competitors.

Different measures are proposed by Scholz experts in the discussion during the conference: Implementation and enforcement of waste management laws regarding EU standards especially the new EU waste framework directive, installation of an own ministry of environment or at least detailed responsibility for a task force within the Ministry of Agriculture or the Ministry of Economics, closing down of the illegal dumping sites and illegal operating companies in waste management.

Scholz Group entered the Serbian market with first investments in 2001. Since then Scholz Group invested over € 20 million in companies, ventures and acquisitions in Serbia.

Source: Scholz Holding GmbH