Zagreb introduced a new waste sorting and collection model a year ago today and although more waste is being sorted than before, residents and the opposition in the City Assembly criticise the system, citing overflowing waste bins and insufficiently frequent collection.
According to city administration data, in the first eighth months of 2023, 23% less mixed waste was collected on the year, while the collection of biowaste increased by 111%, of plastics by 63% and of paper by 10%. It is estimated that 50% of waste bins have been removed from public spaces.
The model in force since 1 October 2022 was presented as part of a solution to the years-long problems with the waste collection service in the capital. Mayor Tomislav Tomašević’s model includes official Zagreb waste bags for mixed waste, the aim being to motivate citizens to separate as much waste as possible, a cheaper service for those separating waste, fines for those improperly disposing waste, and removing bins from sidewalks in the city centre.
Between December 2022 and 26 September this year, the city’s Waste Management company issued fines totalling €300,000 to those not adhering to the new model. Businesses were issued 2,592 fines totalling €261,000, with an average €100 fine per business, while private citizens were issued 842 fines totalling €33,000, with an average €40 fine per citizen.
Communal wardens filed 424 misdemeanor reports for not adhering to the new model against companies, totalling €110,000, 311 misdemeanor reports against citizens totalling €37,000, and a smaller number of reports against small businesses.
Despite the fines and stricter control, the sight of overflowing waste bins is the most obvious argument for the dissatisfaction of some citizens with the service as well as for criticism from the City Assembly opposition.
The president of the HDZ’s Zagreb branch, Mislav Herman, often says that “Zagreb is neglected and dirty.”
But recently, the Zagreb government’s coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party, has also joined in the criticism. The party’s whip in the City Assembly, Tanja Sokolić, said earlier this week “the SDP is dissatisfied with the level of utility services and the waste management model.”
However, the problem of overflowing waste bins goes back many years.
Hina asked the city administration if citizens complain about difficulties with waste collection and if there have been more complaints since the new model was introduced.
The administration says plastics and paper are collected from blocks of flats once a week, whereas before it was once in a fortnight.
In the area of the City of Zagreb, Waste Management collects paper, plastics and biowaste six days a week in three shifts, while bins on public spaces are emptied once or several times a week, the administration says, adding that due to “operational reasons” the company sometimes can’t collect waste as scheduled.
Asked if it is possible to increase the frequency of collection, the administration says it is working on improving the quality of the service but that there is a shortage of workers and trucks.
Four new trucks are due to arrive this year and 11 in 2024, the administration says, adding that it also plans to hire another 200 workers.