Croatian Recycling Practices, Waste Disposal Better But Far from EU Goals

Lauren Simmonds

Updated on:

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Borivoje Dokler writes, back in 2021, a massive 1,766,560 tonnes of municipal waste were generated across Croatia, which brought the total amount back to the value of what it was in 2018, according to the report on municipal waste of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. Compared to the previous year of 2020, this represents an increase of four percent.

“If we look at the annual amount of municipal waste per inhabitant, it amounted to 454 kilograms, which is the highest value in the observed period from 1995 to 2021. This can be attributed in part to the 2021 population census, which resulted in significantly lower values ​​than the EUROSTAT population estimates used in previous years,” the report stated.

One of the significant factors that influenced the increase in the total amount of generated municipal waste is the greater activity of the service sector after slowing down or closing during 2020 due to the emergence of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The Ministry also pointed out that in 2021, the continuous implementation of educational and informative activities aimed at raising peoples’ level of awareness about their role in the creation and prevention of waste generation and the separation of waste at the point of generation continued.

Investments are being made in the infrastructure for the proper separate collection of municipal waste, such as containers for such collection from the doorstep, the construction of recycling yards, the procurement of vehicles, the construction of sorting facilities, etc., which resulted in an increase in the number of local self-government units (LGUs) with separate collection (from 514 to 519).

As such, the share of separately collected municipal waste stood at 43 percent, or 761,683 tonnes, and the share of mixed municipal waste in the collected waste was 57 percent, or 1,004,877 tonnes, the report states.

In 2021, there was also an increase in the number of LGUs across the country in which the separate collection of biowaste from municipal waste was carried out. The aforementioned activity was carried out in 39 percent of LGUs, or 215 LGUs, which is 23 LGUs more than in the previous year. 122,175 tonnes of biowaste from municipal waste were collected separately, equal to 25 percent of the estimated total amount (494,583 tonnes), which is an increase of 1 percentage point compared to 2020.

As a result, we now have ample room to talk about the risk of not achieving the national Goal 1.3. from the Waste Management Plan of the Republic of Croatia for the period 2017-2022 (PGO RH) prescribed for the separate collection of bio-waste.

The result of further investment in the opening and equipping of new recycling yards in 2021 is visible in the increase in the number of active recycling yards from 186 to 201. There has also been an increase in the amount of municipal waste collected through recycling yards by 5 percent compared to the previous year. Back in 2021, recycling yards received a total of 63,173 tonnes of municipal waste. Bulky waste (41 percent), wood waste (19 percent), and paper and cardboard (9 percent) were collected the most. This points to Croatian recycling habits being better than they once were.

Of the total amount of separately collected municipal waste (all types of municipal waste except mixed municipal waste), 560,129 tonnes were recovered, while the amount of actually recycled waste amounted to 555,320 tonnes (removed impurities and non-targeted materials). Thus, the municipal waste recovery rate in 2021 stood at 32 percent, and the recycling rate stood at 31 percent, which is 2 percentage points more than in 2020, when the recycling rate was 29 percent.

The counties with the best results are Medjimurje County (40 percent), Koprivnica-Krizevci County (33 percent) and Varazdin County (31 percent), and the counties with the lowest recovery rate within the framework of public services are Lika-Senj County (2 percent) and Zadar County (2 percent).

After adding up the additionally determined quantities and estimates (waste from the service sector, waste collected within the framework of the national system for special categories of waste organised by the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund (FZOEU) and the quantities reported by retailers, the highest estimated recovery rates and further are recorded for Medjimurje County (55 percent), Varazdin County (48 percent), Koprivnica-Krizevci County (45 percent) and the City of Zagreb (41 percent), while the counties with the lowest recovery rates are still Lika-Senj County (19 percent ) and Zadar County (20 percent).

The amount of biodegradable municipal waste deposited in landfills across the Republic of Croatia was 594,107 tonnes. Thus, the goal from Article 55 of the ZGO related to the reduction of biodegradable municipal waste disposal has not yet been achieved.

For more on Croatian recycling and waste disposal habits, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.


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