3R in the Western Balkans

3R in the Western Balkans

Source of funding

Embassy of Japan in Hungary

Name of client/donor

Embassy of Japan in Hungary

Overall project value

EUR 33,141


June 2014 – March 2015

Beneficiary countries

Bosnia and Herzegovina | Montenegro | Serbia

Number of staff


The generation of municipal waste has risen steadily in the Western Balkans in recent years and is currently estimated to be at levels similar to those in the new EU member states (although data on solid waste are poor). The generation of municipal waste per capita in the region is estimated to have increased sharply between 2003 and 2007, from 234 to 330 kg (40 percent). This increase is linked to the steady increase in GDP in the same period, although the growth in waste outstripped the growth in GDP. Municipal waste collection is insufficient in most countries in the region, especially in rural areas. Large numbers of waste facilities are outdated. Abandoned or poorly managed landfill sites are a problem in many areas. The illegal dumping of waste remains a major problem, in part due to the lack of waste management facilities. As a result, uncontrolled landfills pose considerable risks to public health and the environment. Overall, waste management services and infrastructure in the region are weak, and the municipal companies that collect waste often use outdated vehicles. In some parts of the region, municipal solid waste is not collected regularly. The main option for the treatment of municipal waste in all countries is still landfilling.

The overall objective of the project was to help mainstream integrated and sustainable waste management strategies such as integrated solid waste management (ISWM) and reduce, reuse and recycle (3Rs) in local municipalities with the overarching aim of fostering sustainable consumption and production practices in the Western Balkan region.

Project tasks included assisting municipalities to enhance cooperation on sustainable waste management services; building the capacities of relevant municipal officials; identifying potential activities associated with ISWM at regional and local level; and international dissemination activities. The Drina River basin was selected as the target region as it connects three Western Balkan countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro).

The study "Supporting the implementation of the 3R concept in the Drina River basin: Recommendations for local waste management practices" was elaborated. The overall aims were to assess the status of waste management in the Drina River basin, and, on the basis of this analysis, to identify drivers and barriers for advanced waste management. A further aim was to explore potential actions at local level and to provide recommendations for measures and actions to integrate the 3R concept into waste management practices. The study also provided the theoretical context for ISWM and the 3R concept and assessed the existing local and national legislative and policy framework associated with waste management services.

Municipalities in the Drina River basin were assisted to enhance cross-border and inter-regional cooperation on sustainable waste management services.

On November 26 and 27, 2014, a regional capacity-building workshop and stakeholder consultation were organised in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The capacity-building event targeted representatives of municipalities located in the Drina River basin with the aim of supporting the implementation of advanced waste management practices and the 3R concept. The stakeholder consultation was organised for a wider stakeholder group including government officials and representatives of industry and civil society organisations from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia. It focused on the role of national governments and industry in the development of municipal waste management services.

Topic area experts contributed to the following publication:

Supporting the implementation of the 3R concept in the Drina River Basin: Recommendations for local waste management practices

  • Organisation of field trip 
  • In-depth interviews
  • Literature review
  • Assessment of information
  • Elaboration of a study
  • Regional network development
  • Organisation workshop and consultation