The Sustainable Waste Management Programme is part of the strategic sustainable resource management programme, whose goals are education on sustainable waste management and the impact on national and local policies related to waste and resource utilization.

The activities under the program are aimed at improving waste management in Croatia in order to reduce environmental damage by recycling, reusing and composting waste, and improve the quality of services for citizens with fairer collection of waste. In 2016, Zelena akcija also became a member of the Zero Waste Europe Network, which contributes to the development of sustainable waste management systems at the European level.


It is well-known that the sudden penetration of the consumer and marketing society in central and eastern Europe has caused a crisis in waste management for which the authorities were mostly unprepared and have not taken appropriate steps so far to solve this problem. Until now, wild and legal landfills were the most widespread waste management methods in the Republic of Croatia. Apart from looking ugly and disheveling odors, landfills can also cause groundwater, soil and air pollution. Even landfills that have been repaired and have protective layers can begin to leak contaminated waste water after a while.

The European Union's accession funds have presented incentives to state governments to take solid steps in waste management, but in too many cases the governments have reacted excessively. The Waste Landfill Directive (1999/31 / EC) is probably the most important legislative document in this area.

The primary objective of this Directive is to stop the disposal of untreated waste at municipal waste disposal sites, in particular biodegradable waste, which is the major cause of the process of rotting due to the lack of oxygen within the decommissioned waste. The directive has caused two reactions. On the positive side, this has led to more efficient incentives for recycling and composting, but on the negative side, this message was unclear with regard to waste prevention issues and led to a "simpler" waste management solution - thinking about burning it in heat treatment plants. These situations arise when the parties representing the interests of the incinerator (designers and technical suppliers) manage to convince the local authorities that the "thermal processing" requirement, or only the waste solution required by the EU directives, is not correct. It is true that there are cheaper and more environmentally friendly methods of waste management and disposal - which are fully in line with the Directive. Recycling, composting, anaerobic digestion and mechanical-biological treatment are more acceptable and are also encouraged in this Directive. The targets for reducing the amount of organic waste to be disposed of can be largely achieved by separate collection and recycling or composting of paper, cardboard, food and other biodegradable waste.

Due to differences in the quality of individual waste treatment processes, a strict hierarchical waste disposal sequence is defined by the European directives and the Croatian Waste Act.

Waste Management Hierarchy:

  1. Prevention of waste generation   
  2. Reuse 
  3. Material rewards
  4. Energy recovery or other types of processing before the final disposal of residual waste

This rigorous sequence is set because of the overall assessment of sustainability or ecological acceptability. These solutions are used  in that order, reducing the amount of waste for further processing each time. A large number of European countries are trying to reduce the quantities of waste being disposed of at landfills, which is why there is a growing need to increase the share of recycled and biologically treated waste in the total amount of the waste generated. Waste management includes measures to prevent the generation of waste and to reduce waste, without the use of procedures and/or ways that pose environmental risks, and measures to prevent the harmful effects of waste on human health and the environment.

It is also important to point out that the European Union has already disposed of 49% of its waste in 2003 - 18% burned, 27% recycled or composted. Europe has therefore recognised the importance of separate collection of waste. Also, if we look at the issue on a global level, it has been scientifically proven that by recycling we save 2 to 10 times more energy per given type of waste than energy that can be incinerated (ICF international consulting). Also, recycling of about 10,000 tonnes of waste enables 240 jobs in Europe, incineration 40, while disposing of waste enables approximately 10 jobs. We believe that a sustainable and complete waste management system should be based solely on maximum effort in terms of prevention, re-use and recycling.

Programme Coordinator: Marko Košak

08.04.10. 16:44