Belgrade incinerator public private partnership (PPP), Belgrade, Serbia
The planned Belgrade waste incinerator, being considered for financing by the EBRD, EIB and IFC, is incompatible with waste prevention and recycling targets and endangers the already precarious livelihoods of the 12,000 people waste-picking in the city. The project’s environmental and social impact assessment fails to resolve numerous issues.
Protest in Belgrade, February 2018
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- Location: Vinča landfill, Serbia
- Operational capacity: 340,000 tonnes of waste per year or 66% of Belgrade’s waste
- Total project cost: EUR 326.5 million
- Investor: Beo Clean Energy (Suez-Itochu consortium)
- Potential financiers: EBRD, EIB, IFC EBRD loan under review: up to EUR 84.6 million
- Procurement: Public-Private Partnership
- Concession period: 25 years
- The wrong solution for Belgrade’s waste: 68% of Belgrade’s waste is preventable, recyclable or compostable, but this project will burn it instead.
- Not on target: If Serbia’s capital is burning 66% of its waste, the country will not be able to meet EU recycling targets for 2020 or 2030.
- High cost for the public: citizens will need to pay a waste management fee, a feed-in tariff for the electricity generated from the facility, as well as compensation to the investor, if the capacity of 340,000 tonnes per year is not fully utilised.
- The project endangers the livelihoods of up to 12,000 people who live from waste-picking in the city.
Belgrade’s Vinča landfill, by the river Danube, has been piling up over more than 40 years with no lining or collection of the water leaching out underneath it. More than 80 people are living in informal accommodation and trying to eke out a living from waste-picking at the site.
12,000 more are estimated to be informally involved in waste collection, some working individually and others having contracts with private companies.
In September 2017 the City of Belgrade signed a contract for a 25-year public-private partnership with Itochu and Suez without any public discussion or considering more climate-friendly alternatives. Although it includes a partial rehabilitation of the landfill and construction of a new one, its main feature is a 340,000 tonnes per year “waste-to-energy” incinerator. The only recycling component is a construction waste facility.
Unless the city’s waste generation grows very fast, Belgrade may either be forced to change the law to allow waste imports or to clamp down on informal waste collection in order to fulfill its contractual obligations.
Incinerate or recyle?
Documents obtained by Transparency Serbia seem to indicate that no less than 29 % of Belgrade’s waste is food waste. Paper and cardboard make up another 18 %, plastics 14 %and green garden waste 7 %. Almost none of these need to be disposed of and should be prevented, recycled or composted.
As an EU accession country, Serbia soon have to catch up with the EU’s 50% recycling target for its municipal waste by 2020, as well as meeting targets of 55% by 2025, 60% by 2030 and 65% by 2035.
Both the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and European Investment Bank are considering loans for this project, while the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation both assisted with designing the PPP tender and is interested in financing the implementation.
The banks have previous relatively unsuccessful experience with Belgrade authorities’ approach to resettlement and livelihood restoration for Roma for the Gazela Bridge reconstruction. So far the Vinca case looks set to repeat these mistakes as the Resettlement Action Plan hardly provides any information about livelihood restoration.