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Croatia tired of ‘juggling’ its recycling priorities

Austria – ‘A lot of Croatian manufacturers have to import secondary plastics because the quality has to be competitive, while at the same time we are still landfilling an enormous amount of plastics. This is absurd – and it demoralises the recycling industry,’ declared Gordana Pehnec-Pavlovic, executive secretary of the Croatian Chamber of Economy at the Identiplast conference, held last week in Vienna, Austria.

In Croatia, 82% of waste is still landfilled. ‘There were about 140 active landfill sites in Germany back in 1970; a lot has changed since then, but just imagine how difficult it is for Croatia to end this practice,’ Pehnec-Pavlovic lamented. ‘We are now where Germany was in 1970, you might say.’

Only 24% of plastics is subject to separate collection in Croatia while a mere 17% ends up at recycling plants. ‘Implementation of progressive waste laws is easier said than done – not just in Croatia,’ Pehnec-Pavlovic stated. ‘We must act and react at the same time. Basically, we are constantly juggling priorities.’

She stressed another practical problem, namely finding the right balance between ensuring more recycling capacity and investing in proven technology. ‘We have no time to lose,’ Pehnec-Pavlovic said. ‘But neither do we have money to spend on something that does not work.’

The Croatian government has declared that, by 2020, it wants to separately collect and treat 70% of recyclables, landfill less than 30%, and reduce the amount of landfilled waste to less than 50 kg per inhabitant per year.

A full report on the Identiplast conference will appear in issue #3 of Recycling International.

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