The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and the World Bank presented today the results of a two-year technical assistance project aimed at supporting Croatia in the transition to a circular economy (CE). The project focused on improving the sustainable management of construction waste in Croatia and led to a proposed Action Plan for introducing circular economy principles in the construction and demolition waste sector.
Circular Economy Approaches in Solid Waste Management incorporates the CE concept into the future Waste Management Plan of the Republic of Croatia for the period 2023-2028. Croatia produces about 6 million tons of waste annually, which corresponds to an average of about 1.5 tons per person per year. Most of this waste comes from the construction sector and households. Currently, the waste management system in Croatia relies mainly on landfilling. Despite recent progress, 58% of the municipal waste produced in Croatia in 2021 still went to one of the country’s 80 active landfills.
“Waste management, including the collection and treatment of waste, is central for increasing circularity in Croatia, as well as reducing the negative impacts of landfills on human health and the environment”, highlighted Mile Horvat, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. “Waste management is also closely linked to sustainable products policy. An incentive for circular design of products that includes reduced consumption, product re-use and recycling, brings forward a business model that will prevent the harmful effect of products on the environment and strengthen the extended producer responsibility. Such sustainable product policy reduces waste significantly. What is important is that when waste cannot be avoided, its economic value must be recovered, and its harmful effects on the environment and climate change minimized.“
“Adopting circular economy principles can help to reverse environmental degradation and resource scarcity caused by the unsustainable levels of natural resource extraction and would improve economic security and inclusion,” said Jehan Arulpragasam, World Bank Country Manager for Croatia and Slovenia. “Changing how things are produced and consumed requires ambitious reforms and we are pleased the Croatian Government has recognized the importance of the circular transformation of its economy and we support its commitment to achieving EU targets for the use of secondary raw materials from waste and for limiting the use of landfilling.”
The two-year project of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and the World Bank contributed to the creation of policy incentives for reduced consumption, intensified product use, and extended lifetimes of products and components. The Ministry chose the construction and demolition waste sector as a priority for the development of a five-year Circular Economy Action Plan 2023-2027 due to the sector’s large material and carbon footprint, as well as its socio-economic value. The decision to focus initially on this sector was also prompted by the devastating earthquakes of 2020 and the related surge in construction and demolition waste. The other sectors identified as areas that would substantially benefit from the application of circular solutions were plastics, food, and textiles.
The proposed Circular Economy Action Plan for Construction Waste Management provides a roadmap for reducing waste generation and achieving the EU goal of 70% construction waste recovery, including recycling and other types of waste usage. It also highlights the need to strengthen the market for secondary raw materials and by-products, improve construction waste data collection, reduce illegal construction waste dumping, and increase waste recovery. The Plan was created through a participatory process in consultation with key stakeholders including the public sector, businesses, academia and civil society.
The event gathered representatives from the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, local government, the construction industry, civil society, and international and World Bank experts. They all reinforced the importance of resolving issues of waste management faced by the local communities such as illegal waste dumping and the need to strengthen inspection processes and they highlighted existing good practices related to separate waste collection in the cities of Prelog, Krk and Koprivnica. They also underscored industry investments in new technologies to process construction waste into recycled materials.
In addition to the technical assistance provided to Croatia, the event also featured the presentation of a forthcoming World Bank report on Europe’s experience in spearheading circular economy policy, focused on four EU member countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland and Romania.