EU Delegation to Serbia explains what's problematic about the incinerator project in Vinca

Source: eKapija Monday, 04.11.2019. 15:50
Illustration (Photo: kanvag/
The project of the construction of a facility for the treatment of municipal waste in Vinca was initiated two years ago, and the initiative Don't Let Belgrade D(r)own recently announced that the European Investment Bank had refused to finance the construction of an incinerator, as this kind of waste treatment is not in line with EU regulations, especially Chapter 27. While Serbian Environment Minister Goran Trivan claims that the EIB had not refused to finance the construction of the incinerator, the EU Delegation to Serbia explains for our portal that waste incineration is allowed in special cases when no other solution is available.

The EU Delegation to Serbia told our portal that, as Serbia is preparing to submit its Negotiation Position for Chapter 27 (Environment) in the coming months, Serbia should strive to align with the EU acquis by producing realistic waste management plans, which are at the heart of the waste acquis.

– Given Serbia is in the process of strategically planning and designing its new waste management system, any infrastructure should be planned in conformity with the targets of the EU waste hierarchy – the EU Delegation to Serbia says.

As they said, as part of the Circular Economy Action Plan, the European Commission revised the legislative framework on waste with new targets in force since July 2018.

The new targets aim for a reduction of waste and the establishment of an ambitious and credible long-term path for waste management and recycling (65% recycling target for municipal waste by 2035; 70% recycling target for packaging waste by 2030; a binding landfill target to reduce landfilling to maximum of 10% for municipal waste by 2035).

– Waste incineration is an option, but only for a small fraction of waste, which cannot be prevented, reduced, recycled or managed in any other way. The EU is supportive of the Serbian government's intention to reduce landfilling and close the Vinca landfill. Under the current project for Vinca, the new waste-to-energy facility would have the capacity to burn more than half of Belgrade’s household waste, instead of recycling it. This would not incentivize recycling and would seriously put at risk Serbia's ability to align with the EU’s waste legislation and move towards a circular economy. The EU therefore strongly encourages the Serbian authorities to ensure that the capacity of this facility is adjusted to a level which would allow Serbia to comply with the EU acquis in this area. The EU stands ready to work with the Government of Serbia and the city of Belgrade on waste management systems that are in line with the EU waste legislation – they say.

Let us remind that the Don't Let Belgrade D(r)own initiative recently announced that it had got an official answer from the EIB, where the bank says that it refuses to finance the incinerator in Vinca due to the consequences this project will have on the goals related to waste recycling set in Chapter 27 within the process of Serbia's accession to the EU.

Serbian Environment Minister Goran Trivan said that the EIB had not refused to finance the construction of the incinerator in Belgrade, as 30% of the project was financed by the Margarita investment fund, whose main co-owner is the EIB, and that the incinerator would not treat recyclable waste.

– Everything has been done in line with the EU standards and the incinerator will use only the waste which can't be re-processed – Trivan told the press after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation in the field of climate change with the Italian Minister of Land and Sea, Sergio Costa.

The City of Belgrade says that their private partners informed them a year ago that the EIB would not finance the project. As they stated for RTS, the private partner has long since secured the money from other sources – the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Finance Corporation and the Development Bank of Austria.

– The private partner, which was obliged by the PPP contract to secure the financing, informed us a year ago that the EIB had withdrawn from the negotiations – Ivana Vilotijevic, the city secretary for environmental protection, told RTS.

Let us remind that, in early October, Tanjug reported a statement by the International Finance Corporation where it is said that IFC and MIGA, members of the World Bank Group, would secure a financing package of EUR 259.57 million for the company Beo Cista Energija d.o.o. for the project of the production of energy from waste in Belgrade.

What does the project entail?

The contract signed in the autumn of 2017 by the City of Belgrade and the consortium Beo Cista Energija, consisting of the French Suez Groupe SAS and the Japanese Itochu I-Environment, entails the development of the terrain and the construction of a facility for the treatment of municipal waste and production of energy, and, as said, the project is worth EUR 330 million.

Mirko Milacic, the former director of Suez Vinca Operator d.o.o, the company founded with the aim of realizing the job agreed between the city and the French-Japanese consortium, said in August 2018 in his interview for eKapija that the plan was to have everything done and for the facility to become operational in 2021 or 2022.

Before that, according to the plan at the time, the existing landfill in Vinca was supposed to close and investors were supposed to start extracting landfill gas from it, as it was in their interest to start producing electrical energy as soon as possible, as this is their source of profit. The facility should have a power of 3 MW. The entire interview with the former director can be read in a separate article.

The PUE Beogradske Elektrane has also become part of the project of the construction of the incinerator in Vinca. During the visit of the French president to Serbia in July 2019, the agreement on the buyout of heating energy was signed between Beo Cista Energija and the PUE Beogradske Elektrane, and under the contract on the PPP for the management of the Vinca landfill, the City of Belgrade obliges to build the infrastructure for the taking of heating energy.

– The City of Belgrade has transferred this obligation to Beogradske Elektrance, which will finance the construction of the transformation station at the Vinca complex, the construction of around 9 kilometers of a heating pipeline and the construction of the transformation station at the Konjarnik heating plant – the director of Beogradske Elektrane, Rade Basta, said at the time.

Ivana Milovanovic
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