Waste or rubbish

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What is recycling?

Recycling is the separation of materials from waste and their reuse. It includes the collection, separation, processing, and production of new products from used items or materials. It is very important to separate the waste first according to the types of materials. Many wastes can be reused if collected separately. (source: Wikipedia)

Most municipal waste is disposed of in landfills, and according to the logic of waste management, this should be the last step in a row, preceded by waste prevention (here the responsibility lies with the final consumer, ie us and the producers), reuse waste, recycling and finally incineration as the utilization of non-recyclable materials to obtain energy from waste.

The goals that have been set in the EU, and will probably be similar in our country, because we are still close to the EU, are, to put it mildly, unrealistic.
It is planned that by 2020 the utilization of recyclable materials from municipal waste will reach 50%, by 2035 65%, and by the same 2035 less than 10% of municipal waste should be disposed of in landfills.
Bearing in mind that in 2016 about 3% of recyclable materials from municipal waste were recycled in Serbia and that we are at the bottom of the list in Europe in terms of the amount of generated municipal waste, the question arises, how do we think we will achieve the set goals within the set deadlines?

What should we, the citizens, do?

Awareness of the problem is the first step towards a solution.
Are we ready to realize how each of us is responsible for managing our household waste, just as much as the state is responsible for waste management?
If the answer is yes, the first step towards changing habits would be to think about what we buy and whether the packaging of these products is of such a composition that it can be reused, used, or recycled.

Recyclable materials

Some materials can be recycled indefinitely and at the same time significantly save the energy that would be needed to produce “innocent” raw materials.


Glass can be used and recycled indefinitely.
By recycling 1t of glass, we save the burning of 9l of fuel oil and 40% of the energy that would be needed to produce “innocent” glass.
Buy products packed in glass packaging, use them again and again or give them as a gift for the winter to whom it is missing, and if there is a surplus, you can put the packaging glass in containers specially designed for that. Make sure that the glass is exclusively packaged, that it is emptied of its contents, and that it is not broken during disposal.

Ciljevi koji su postavljeni u EU, a verovatno će biti slični i kod nas, jer smo i sad približni sa EU su, blago rečeno, nerealni.

Planirano je da do 2020 godine iskorišćenje reciklabilnih materijala iz komunalnog otpada dostigne 50%, do 2035 65%, a do te iste 2035 bi trebalo da se na deponije odlaže manje od 10% komunalnog otpada.
Imajući u vidu da je 2016 godine u Srbiji reciklirano oko 3% reciklabilnih materijala iz komunalnog otpada, a da se nalazimo na dnu liste u Evropi po količini generisanog komunlanog otpada, postavlja se pitanje, kako mislimo da ćemo uspeti da dostignemo postavljene ciljeve u postavljenim rokovima?

Aluminum Aluminum beverage cans are mostly generated by end consumers, and that is – us. Recycling aluminum is unlimited, and as with glass, the quality of the new product is not lost and, fascinatingly, 95% of energy is saved. Recycling only one aluminum can save 4 hours of 100W light bulb operation while recycling only 1 kg of aluminum saves from extracting 8 kg of bauxite ore from which aluminum is obtained. Empty the can, crumple it and dispose of it for recycling. For products that contain aluminum, but are mixed with other materials such as plastic and paper, such as tetra pack, marketing is problematic, because it is a dirty material and that is a problem in the further course of recycling. It is not impossible to find reuse in terms of packaging for tree seedlings or vegetable crops so that we do not buy plastic cups or pots that are usually used for seedlings.


There is so much of it that we don’t know what to do with it, but we are still constantly buying it. 99% of the products on the market today are packaged in packaging that is in a certain percentage of plastic of some kind.

When we think a little about the topic concerning plastics, it becomes clear to us how many different ways we endanger our environment, bearing in mind that a very small percentage of recyclable household materials are recycled in Serbia.

That is why it is very important to focus on reducing the use of disposable packaging and items. Because it is not recyclable once, except in exceptional cases.

The most recyclable disposable item today is plastic material, polyethylene terephthalate, or PET packaging. These are all plastic bottles that have a recyclable symbol marked with the number 1 on them.
Recommendation, discard disposable bottles, take your reusable water bottle with you everywhere. The best replacement for disposable PET bottles is glass, but given the possibility of breakage and the risk of injury, opt for, for example, copper or solid plastic with a recyclable symbol 2 (HDPE) or 5 (PP). It is a hard plastic that, according to previous research, does not harm health. Also, do not use PET packaging repeatedly, as it is not recommended for health. It releases toxic substances, it is not hygienic and at the same time, think about how long one palette of bottled water stays in a direct source of sunlight and affects the quality of the water contained in the PET bottle.

Also, when buying certain products, which we are already used to packing in disposable plastic containers or styrofoam (absolutely non-recyclable and completely non-degradable), consider making a small impact on your local store and asking them to pack the product in your reusable packaging. The same is true for cardboard or paper packaging.
Other types of plastic are not recommended for use, such as PVC-polyvinylchloride, marked 3, PS-polystyrene, marked 6, which is found in disposable coffee cups from the machine or disposable food boxes, or PC marked 7 which is the worst type of plastics for food because it can release bisphenol A, or better known BPA.

Paper and cardboard

Paper remembers everything, and by recycling 1 ton of paper, we save 4,100 kWh of electricity, 1,438 liters of oil, 24,600 liters of water, and save 17 trees from being cut down.
Recycle paper and cardboard. The only precondition is that the raw material is not dirty or greasy. Cardboard boxes can be used multiple times.
The situation on the cardboard and paper market is very bad at the moment. There is too much of it and its price drops drastically. Soda paper bags can also be used more than once if they are not dirty, and they are highly recommended to be put in the compost if you make it from household organic waste.

Municipal waste A large percentage, as much as 60%, of household waste or municipal waste is organic waste. These are green residues that are biodegradable and can be used to make compost. All fruit and vegetable leftovers, as well as eggshells or leftovers of organically prepared non-fat food, can be disposed of in compost, which together with brown matter (leaves and twigs, sawdust, soda paper) create fertile soil with which you can later feed the plants in your apartment, garden or park in front of your building. What remains in your municipal waste bin is the garbage that ends up in the landfill.

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