Living in Split, one very quickly learns about the rumour-mill here, everyone has an opinion and isn’t afraid to share it. One such opinion I have heard over again is – “don’t bother recycling, it all goes to the same place!”
The greatest problem with these opinions, is eventually, it is hard to distinguish opinion from fact; they get passed from one person to another, until an entire community believes an opinion, stops questioning the truth or taking any accountability (because it is someone else’s fault).
This is exactly why Total Eco Croatia decided to head straight to the source to ‘bust the myth’ on recycling in Split, why? Because if it is true that recycling doesn’t happen, then something needs to be done about it. But, if it isn’t true? That means there are a lot of people who need to learn the truth, so we are all doing our part when it comes to recycling and sustainability.
On Thursday 9th February, myself, Shannon Solieva and Michael Freer headed straight to Čistoća to get to the bottom of this.
We were met by Suzana Kontić, the manager of Recyclables and were very quickly impressed with her openness, knowledge and passion.
To cut straight to the point – is Čistoća really recycling after they collect the waste?
Yes. A ridiculous, emphatic yes!
Everything we learnt was not just regurgitated information, we literally drove around the entire city, seeing it all in action and having everything thoroughly explained. I was going to write a nice report on the entire day, but realised most of us have limited attention spans thanks to technology and social media, so let’s cut through the crap and get to it.
These comments were the list of ‘facts’ we have all had repeated to us, so this is what we wanted to address (answers coming from Čistoća and pictures all taken while touring the city of Split)
“The same trucks collect the bins”
First of all, there are different days for different recyclables and waste. The issue is, that all of our trucks look the same, they have all been branded the same, why? Because what happens if they were individually branded and one day the ‘paper truck’ breaks down and we need to send a ‘plastic truck’ to collect paper for a day? In a second it would be all through the newspapers and our reputation ruined!
“I have seen one truck collect recyclables and waste side by side” – is there any truth to this?
Yes, this could happen. BUT, the only reason a truck would collect two different bins, is, for example if there was a lot of ‘waste’ in the paper bin. Our drivers are well trained, if there is ever an issue with any of the containers, they call it in and we confirm whether they need to collect it or leave it. In the case where waste has contaminated all the paper, it cannot be recycled, so the waste truck will collect the container the following day (hence collecting waste and paper together).
“Why don’t I have all recycling bins in my area?”
Some areas may not have the full range of recycling bins within easy access. It is a town planning issue (Gradski Kotar), we are continually in talks and negotiations with them for where we can put our bins. Look out the window – those are all bins waiting to be placed and we have 300 more coming!
For a solution right now – tetrapak and tin can be placed in the plastic container and will get separated at the other end.
However, even though all recycling containers are not beside every apartment building; in every community, we have what is called a ‘green island’, where all recycling containers are: plastic, paper, glass, tetrapack (milk containers), clothing…
We also have a mobile recycling unit that moves around the city (currently at Ul. Mosecka 56, Split). Space is still an ongoing issue with this as well – see how the container is now? When someone parks like this, our trucks cannot empty the bins and we have to wait.
“All the rubbish in the mobile recycling unit goes into the same container”
Ok, let’s take a look inside shall we…
As you can see, there are separate bins for each.
“What actually happens to the recyclables?”
Čistoća is a governmental organisation, we are responsible for the collection of rubbish and recyclables, Jolly is the company responsible for sorting, processing and working with the recyclables. As you can see, our trucks dump the recyclables on to the conveyor belt and Jolly have 4 employees sorting – for example – plastic gets separated into about 8 different categories (so if tetrapak or tin is mixed in, it will be separated accordingly).
“Why don’t I need to separate the different plastics?”
We want to make recycling as simple as possible for the people of Split, which is why there is only one recycling container for all plastic; as mentioned previously, it gets sorted on-site. So, we just need the people of Split to separate plastics from waste and Jolly does the rest (once sorted, recycled and compressed it is spray painted with the dates on)
“Malls & large organisations don’t recycle”
*drove in behind the Mall of Split*
As you can see they have all of their recycling bins and everything is separated. Organisations like the Mall and even large cruise ships are great, we collect from them and they already have everything separated.
So on to the big question –
Is recycling REALLY happening in Split?
Čistoća and Jolly are doing their due diligence, but is recycling really happening here as a city? No. The EU standard is that 60% of a city’s waste needs to be recycled. Split currently sits at 19%. What proportion of this 19% comes from residential homes do you think?
1.7%!! The rest comes from businesses and organisations.
While we do not have the exact ratio of residential waste vs. commercial, it is clear to see that individually, we are all still not doing enough.
So, City of Split, it is time to step up our game. Yes, there are other issues surrounding commercial waste and Karepovac landfill, but the fact remains – only 1.7% of our residential waste is being recycled, which means if we want to make a difference, we need to start with ourselves.
There is no one left to point the finger at. It’s time to take action.
Recycling in Split is going to become part of a regular series, but for simplicity sake, here are the 5 steps we can all take now to make a difference.
- Compost (majority of waste in the landfill is bio-waste)
Let’s be better, let’s take accountability for our own actions and all work together to #keepcroatiabeautiful
If you see something that doesn't seem right around the city of Split, rubbish, grafiti, damage... click on this link and you can add a picture and comment which the city of Split needs to respond to.