Sunday, 10 April 2022

Croatia Has One of Best Waste Tire Recycling Systems in EU

ZAGREB, 10 April 2022 - Croatia has one of the best waste tire recycling systems in Europe, with more than 90% of used tires being used for materials recovery, which is above the national target of 80%, the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund has said.

Using tires for materials recovery results in the production of rubber granulate, textile, steel and rubber chips. They are also used to make products such as rubber flooring for playgrounds, paths, walkways and running tracks.

Rubber granulate is used in bitumen mixtures for asphalt and in making artificial turf for soccer fields, floor coverings, wheels for dumpsters and garbage cans.

The steel obtained from tires is a raw material used in steelworks and the textile is used by cement factories for energy recovery. Waste tires are also an excellent source of energy and can be used to make fuel with excellent properties.

The business and research sectors have taken a step further with the aim of using recycled rubber floor coverings for a cleaner environment.

The Varaždin-based Faculty of Geotechnical Engineering and Gumiimpex, the only Croatian company that uses waste tires for materials recovery, have been implementing a research project called "Recycled rubber and solar photocatalysis: Ecological innovation for passive air and health protection".

The project, funded by the EU, is aimed at designing a product that will use natural processes - solar energy and photocatalysts - to eliminate organic air pollutants in urban areas.

A professor at the Faculty of Geotechnical Engineering, Aleksandra Anić Vučinić, notes that using recycled rubber floor coverings in the future would make the environment cleaner.

There are three tire recycling companies in Croatia - Gumiimpex - GRP, which uses waste tires for materials recovery, and the cement factories Holcim Croatia from Koromačno and Nexe from Našice, which use tires for energy recovery.

The system of waste tire recycling in Croatia was established in 2006, and it has been organised by the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund.

In 2020, 28,480 tonnes of tires were put on the Croatian market. As much as 88% (25,066 tonnes) of waste tires were collected, and of that amount, 83% was processed, with 96% of the processed tires having been used for materials recovery and only 4% for energy recovery.

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Thursday, 10 February 2022

Inside Croatia's Effective Household Waste Disposal System

February 10, 2022 - For a small country with a sparse population, the residents of Croatia take their recycling seriously, especially when it comes to household waste. 

Among the list of countries that recycled the most household waste between 2010-19, ranked by the European Environment Agency (using official data from Eurostat), Croatia ranked 2nd, for a household waste recycling rate that increased by 655% between 2010-19. Its recycling rate in 2019 was 30.2%, compared to only 10% in 2010. And in 2020, Croatia reduced the amount of municipal waste, increasing household waste separation and recycling rates. This worked effectively in keeping unnecessary waste out of landfills, saving energy and natural resources, and preventing air pollution. 

In Croatia, household waste recycling is done by separating glass, metal, paper, biowaste, plastic, wood, electronics, and car waste at home. The separated disposal of these is achieved via containers for separate collection on households’ doorsteps, public areas, and vehicles for separate collection and sorting facilities. On the streets and near households, one can observe these waste container stations consisting of yellow bins for plastic (bottles, caps, plastic cups) and metal (metal caps, food and drink caps, aluminum foil), green bins for glass, and blue for paper. Plastics and metal are exported to other countries that can process and produce new products, paper and glass are fully recycled. 

The method of households independently doing their own waste separation is one step ahead that Croatia possesses in their waste collection efficiency. There’s also the fact that returning the specific type of plastic bottle is encouraged, in exchange for a refund. Usually 0.5kn (50 lipa) per bottle, the system applies to water bottles, soda bottles, and soda cans. If the bottle has “Povratna naknada” (refund) on the label, along with the amount of the refund, it can be turned in at most (but not all) grocery stores in exchange for a refund. Definitely keeps you motivated to recycle, doesn't it?

Croatia still has yet to step up its recycling game. The achieved recycling rate of 202 was 34%, significantly below its target rate of 50%. According to a report by Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Ćorić, Director of Institute for Environmental and Nature Protection Aljoša Duplić, and Director of the directorate for environmental impact assessment and sustainable waste management Anamarija Matak, 56% of the municipal waste ended up in landfills. Only 34% went to recovery (including recycling), and 9% went to mechanical-biological waste treatment plants. The 34% rate is an improvement as it has been growing by four percentage points year over year, but lower than the 50% goal regardless. The plan for 2022 is to have the landfill waste rate reduced to 25%.

But there is a new waste management system that is promising a clean environment and reduced carbon emissions. In the Zadar/Lika-Senj counties, the plan is for a faculty to be built for producing solid residual fuel (SRF) from mixed municipal waste, which will be incinerated in a cement kiln in Split, according to an agreement the beneficiary has with cement producer Cemex. The plan also includes a facility where green waste will be composted, and a site for processing construction and demolition waste. These transfer stations plus equipment (including vehicles and containers) should be capable of processing 31,000 tonnes of waste per year. The project area covers eight towns and 33 municipalities in the Zadar county and the southern half of Lika-Senj county - about 12 % of Croatia’s total surface area, serving a population of about 195 000 people. This project will result in significantly less household waste taken to landfills, keeping the desired landfill waste rate low, hopefully achieving that 25% goal.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Waste Separation in Dalmatia Lowest in Croatia, Split Worst

October 12, 2021 - Waste separation is traditionally lowest in southern Croatia, with the city of Split infamously known as the worst. 

Annual reports on waste collection in Croatia issued by the Ministry of Economic and Sustainable Development regularly present sad news about Dalmatia. Namely, it shows a severe civilizational lag in the south compared to the north, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

Statistics show that Dalmatia, together with Lika and Brod-Posavina County, is at the bottom of Croatia when it comes to waste separation. But there is tourism here, and the state invests in infrastructure and development, so it makes no sense to compare it with poorer parts of Croatia and where life is objectively more challenging.

Data on waste separation collection in 2020 show that Split is in last place among the big cities in Dalmatia. Dubrovnik has a collection rate of 11.16 percent, followed by Sibenik, which last year still rose with a rate of 6.55 percent. On the other hand, Zadar fell from 7 percent to 6.20 percent last year, while Split is at the bottom of the scale with 5.80 percent. Compared to 2019, Split even improved because it had a disgraceful 3.74 percent two years ago, but even with that miserable shift, it did not move further than the last place.

Moreover, when we move outside the framework of Dalmatia, Split is convincingly in last place among the big cities in Croatia regarding waste separation. This year, Rijeka recorded 14.21 percent, while Zagreb separates 29.74 percent, and Osijek as much as 38.69 percent, which is an improvement from 28.67 percent in 2019.

The record holders are again in Međimurje. Čakovec is at 48.95 percent, and some of their municipalities, such as Belica, separate 79.76 percent of waste. In fact, in Međimurje County, eight municipalities separate more than 60 percent of waste, above the required EU standards.

In terms of municipal waste management, as in 2019, the highest rates of recovery and recycling of waste are still recorded in Međimurje County (58 percent), Varaždin County (53 percent) Koprivnica-Križevci County (50 percent), and the City of Zagreb (48 percent).

On the other hand, the counties where waste is least recycled are Zadar County (20 percent) and Lika-Senj County (20 percent). They are followed by Brod-Posavina (23 percent), Split-Dalmatia (24 percent), Šibenik-Knin (25 percent), and Dubrovnik-Neretva County (25 percent).

Another indicator that shows just how bad it is in Dalmatia is shown in the example of Zadar County, where most construction is currently underway in Croatia. Unfortunately, Zadar County is at the bottom of the scale and the most economically underdeveloped part of Croatia.

Most municipal waste in Croatia was disposed of in Zadar, in the Diklo area, as much as 320,905 tons. It should be emphasized that this is almost twice as much as Zagreb's Jakuševac, where 189,975 tons were disposed of, or Split's Karepovac, which is third on the list where 116,876 tons were disposed. Much less mixed municipal waste is disposed of in Zadar than in Zagreb and Split, but it is not explained what the 247,651.71 tons of 'other waste' disposed of in Diklo in 2020 refer to. 

The director of Zadar's "Čistoća" Ivan John Krstičević said that "this is a large amount of excavation that ends at two landfills in that landfill."

Last year, 103,015 tons of mixed municipal waste were disposed of in Karepovac; in fact, almost everything that ended up there falls into that category.

It cannot be said that nothing happens in Dalmatia when it comes to waste, but it is going very slowly. In Zadar, Diklo should stop being a landfill, fortunately for the surrounding locals, when the Biljana Donja Waste Management Center starts operating, and commissioning is expected in the middle of next year. At the end of this year, the CCE Bikarac should start trial work in Šibenik-Knin County.

Split is also at the bottom. The Center for Waste Management in Split-Dalmatia County in Lećevica has been questioned by associations, locals, and some scientists as environmentally unacceptable. Still, it is equally questionable whether it will ever be built. Big money was spent, jobs were created, people were employed in the county’s “Regional Clean Environment Center.” Some retired from that position, but nothing has moved in two decades without anyone responding.

Presenting the Municipal Waste Report at a press conference, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Coric boasted that Croatia ended last year with 41 percent of separated municipal waste, saying it was an increase of four percent compared to 2019. But he noted that last year was a “pandemic year” marked by a reduction in the work of the service sector.

In other words, there was much less tourism last year than in previous years, so the results on that success are relative. This is especially true for Dalmatia. As a result, the amount of waste is smaller, but, unfortunately, the backlog in separation and recycling is equal.

In Split-Dalmatia County, there are five municipalities with no waste separation (i.e., 0.00 percent), namely Jelsa, Prgomet, Seget, Sućuraj, and Šolta, while Hrvace is at 0.05 percent of separation, and Muć at 0, 06 percent. According to them, Vrgorac is "advanced" with 0.16 percent.

In Šibenik-Knin County, Kistanje, Kijevo, Ervenik, Civljane, Murter and Promina are at "zero", and in Zadar County, Lišane Ostrovičke, Pakoštane, Polača, Povljana, Sali and Stankovici do not separate anything. In Dubrovnik-Neretva, the municipalities of Janjina, Kula Norinska, Lumbarda, Opuzen, Pojezerje, Smokvica, Ston, Zažablje are without separation.

Of course, there are brighter examples, like Lastovo, in Dubrovnik-Neretva County, which reached an incomprehensible 40.82 percent for Dalmatia. There, waste separation actions were initiated by associations, the Municipality of Lastovo, the local Komunalac, the Lastovo Islands Nature Park, and obviously, the results were not lacking. For several years in a row in Split-Dalmatia County, Omiš has been praised. This year, it reached 20.70 percent, and Dugi Rat equaled it, which, therefore, shares first place in the largest Dalmatian county.

But when you look at the waste management map in the report, it turns out that the northern regions are more advanced in waste recycling. For example, no southern part of Croatia has a composting plant. In fact, in the results for last year, we cannot say that tourism is an aggravating circumstance for Dalmatia, which otherwise produces a significant amount of waste because it was significantly less than in previous years.

It would be unfair to say that nothing is being done. Split has reduced the amount of waste disposed of at Karepovac, and compared to 2018; it has doubled the amount of waste collected separately from 1,614 to 3,136 tons. It has also increased the number of stationary and mobile recycling yards. But that’s all too little to avoid the penalties cities have to pay if they don’t reach specific recycling percentages.

Namely, according to the "Decree on Municipal Waste Management," cities and municipalities are obliged to pay an incentive fee for reducing the amount of mixed municipal waste. It is a measure that encourages local self-government units to reduce the amount of mixed municipal waste. As confirmed by the Fund for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency, the Fund collected HRK 46.9 million from municipalities and cities in Croatia last year because, in 2019, they did not separate enough mixed municipal waste. Thus, the City of Zagreb had to pay HRK 8.8 million, Osijek HRK 922 thousand, and Rijeka HRK 1.6 million. Of the Dalmatian cities, Split had to pay 3.2 million kuna, Zadar paid penalties of 1.6 million kuna, Šibenik 825 thousand kuna, and Dubrovnik 944 thousand kuna.

It is unknown how much Dalmatian and Croatian cities and municipalities will pay for 2020 because last year's data will be calculated at the end of 2021 after receiving a report from the relevant Ministry.

According to the World Bank, Croatia generally lags behind European waste management directives, so the question is whether it will avoid penalties that would amount to 42,000 euros a day. In 2020, Croatia was supposed to reach 50 percent separate separation, and last year the country ended up with 41 percent. However, it was a pandemic year, as Minister Ćorić admitted. Otherwise, it isn't easy to approach the set norms. For some, the question is whether Croatia will fulfill them, as is the case with Karepovac, given the "Lecevica case."

Since the population's education is emphasized as one of the goals, it is not out of place to know that Čistoća Split has spent around one million kuna on education in the last two years. 

Given that the new Split government, led by Mayor Ivica Puljak, has announced a cleaner Split as one of its strategic goals, we will see if Split can move from the infamous place of the worst city when it comes to waste management.

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