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Photograph: Freeimages.com

The Environment and Nature Protection Ministry is preparing an upgrade of the waste management system in order to set up an economically and ecologically sustainable system based on circular economy, Deputy Minister Marko Siljeg said on Tuesday.

He was speaking at a conference called "Promoting innovations for resource efficiency and waste management in public procurement," organised by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) and Zagreb Holding.

Siljeg underscored that waste management was one of the most important topics at all levels, from local government units and counties to the national level. He recalled that in accordance with European Union obligations, Croatia has set objectives that it has to achieve - to reduce dumping combined waste and to significantly reduce dumping bio-waste. By 2020, it is also necessary to achieve 50% of separated waste collection, that is, separating glass, plastic, paper and metal.

Explaining circular economy, Siljeg said that, amongst else, it entails recycling. One of the key factors of a circular economy is proper waste management, he underscored, adding that emphasis is placed on preventing the creation of waste, separate waste collection and recycling.

"That can be achieved by increasing the number of recycling yards, introducing more sorting plants, household composting and establishing centres for the reuse of products. The changes being prepared would facilitate cities and municipalities to adapt the waste management system to specific local needs that would be financially most feasible and, what is most important, that the system would become sustainable, which would cushion the price rise of waste collection for citizens," Siljeg explained.

He underscored that the establishment of a sustainable waste management system did not rely on citizens only but society on the whole, including a responsible approach to waste management by public bodies and institutions and in the private sector. One of the tools contributing to the establishment of an efficient waste management system and building a resource efficient society is "green public procurement," he said.

"That means that public administration bodies promote the procurement of goods and services that have less impact on the environment than those they would normally procure. The procurement of products and services of that nature, for example, recycled paper, eco-friendly cleaning products and other products made in a sustainable way that can be reused or recycled, contributes to reducing the creation of waste," he underscored.

He stressed that the national action plan for green procurement has set the objective that by 2020, 50% of public procurement in Croatia should include some of the green procurement standards. Siljeg explained that around 25,000 public procurement contracts are signed in Croatia each year valued at around HRK 30 billion. "That is 12% of GDP. That would considerably contribute to a clean and healthy environment and at the same time contribute to developing a green economy, innovation and green commodities and services," he said.

"The interest to preserve the environment and economic interest, due to the depletion of raw materials for production, overlap, and the only proper way to preserve the environment and secure raw materials for industry is to develop a resource efficient society founded on a circular economy," Siljeg said.

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