The Conference Boosting circular economy in Serbia – Nordic experiences was held in Kragujevac in the organization of Nordic Business Alliance and NALED in cooperation with the Serbian Chamber of Commerce the Regional Chamber of Commerce of the Šumadija and Pomoravlje Administrative Districts, with the support of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Kragujevac is the second of four cities in Serbia where this Conference is being held aimed to raise awareness of key local partners about the importance and benefits of circular economy in Serbia, making proposals for principles of the circular economy in Serbia continuation including transfer of Nordic experiences and knowledge.

Ivica Momcilovic, Deputy Mayor addressed the Conference participants on behalf of the City. The innovations applied by the Nordic countries are an inspiration to many countries to initiate the process of circular economy and raise the quality of life in their environments. In addition to innovation, we need corporate and civic responsibility in the process of transition to a renewable economy. The circular economy is a system in which everyone participates, from the state, big manufacturers to small businesses and citizens. Everyone has a role in this process.

Waste treatment is not just a matter of budget, administration, political will, but the process requesting participation of the community as a whole. Our obligation for the sake of new generations is to change habits and thoughts, said Momcilovic in his introductory address. He pointed out that the most modern Recycling Center in the area of central Serbia was opened in Kragujevac few years ago covering 10,000 square meters.

In the last 4 years from the budget of the Energy Efficiency Fund of the Line Ministry in the amount of 180 million RSD 4 primary schools buildings were reconstructed to build the energy efficiency, and this year first Ecology Public Garage is opened.

Within the Project “Clean Serbia”, Kragujevac will finally solve the problem of landfill and garbage collection as well as the problem of wastewater treatment, in addition to other big projects. New smart development strategy for the future is driving force and is being realized through new investments, increasing the living standard and satisfaction of citizens, Momcilovic said.

Biljana Ilić Stošić, Head of the Šumadija Administrative District, said that natural resources are not unlimited and that they are much endangered today. In addition to financial benefits, the circular economy provides for the most important thing that cannot be paid with money, and that is environment protection. Recycling Center in Kragujevac annually recycles and delivers to the operators about 920 tons of raw materials, i.e. resources for further processing, explained Ilić Stošić.

The intention of the Embassies of the Nordic countries is to support Serbia in continuing to implement the principles of circular economy, transfer the experiences of their countries and raise awareness of local partners about the importance and benefits of circular economy implementation that affects each individual and society as a whole.

In addition to environment protection, raising awareness about waste management, circular economy is a concern of every consumer, company, all natural resources and at the same time is a business opportunity because there is no waste. What is waste for one type of industry for another is a raw material, said H.E. Kimmo Lahdevirta, the Ambassador of Finland. Finland made a roadmap for the circular economy five years ago and we apply it every day, but on the other hand, cooperation with partners and countries that should apply it in a similar way is very important, too. Serbia has established a hub for the circular economy, and Circular Economy National Action Plan is being drafted. The Conference is held, among other things, in order to identify a partner for introduction and implementation and act in the whole process because it concerns all of us.

Sweden’s Deputy Ambassador, Mr. Alexander Peyre Dutrey, said that any waste can be transformed into resource, so the circular economy creates the possibility of large industry establishing. The starting point is the proper separation of waste and the basic starting point is not to look at it as a cost but as an opportunity to generate income. In Sweden, public transport mainly uses fuel made from food waste collected by citizens, explained Dutrey, Sweden’s Deputy Ambassador. Sweden is one of the largest donors to Serbia for the improvement and protection of the environment.

Conclusions and proposals for the next step in the implementation of the principles of the circular economy in Serbia will be presented at the final conference in October.