Change of rhetoric: WMC Lećevica is not a solution! We need composting facility!


The expert conference Biowaste Recovery in Split-Dalmatia County was held on January 23, 2024., upon the Split municipal company Čistoća d.o.o. Split procurement of biostabilizers. The conference was organized by the Croatian Chamber of Economy at the initiative of the Professional Group for Environmental Protection in the Economy and in cooperation with Split company Čistoća d.o.o. Split.

After almost two decades of advocacy, discussions on the importance of the separate collection of biowaste and its utilization and processing in the city of Split and all other towns and municipalities in Split-Dalmatia County finally started.

Because we remind you:

  • The waste disposal cost for citizens will multiply when it is not disposed of at the Karepovac waste landfill. Karepovac landfill is practically located in the city center, which makes its disposal inexpensive, especially when we disregard the environmental damage and population health risks. Waste collection will significantly increase transportation costs, not to mention the costs of waste processing.
  • Lećevica composting plant’s capacity is 9500 tons, and that is not sufficient for all the biowaste accumulated in the county.
  • Split-Dalmatia County’s Waste Management Plan from 2008. envisaged the construction of 10 composting plants in the county.
  • Composting is the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of biowaste.

Waste treatment with biostabilizers

At the expert conference, we could hear Čistoća d.o.o. Split’s experiences with biostabilizer, which they subjected to a four-week test. Biostabilizer was used for processing biowaste collected from caterers and biowaste collected from containers in public urban areas.

We also got information about the verified quality of the biostabilizer’s resulting residual material, which can be used in agricultural and green areas. Unlike an open composting facility, a biostabilizer can also handle leftovers from cooked food as well as those from its preparation.

Public companies’ role in sustainable waste management

In this area of interest, it is a troublesome fact that Čistoća d.o.o. Split does not have a permit for biowaste processing. Čistoća d.o.o. Split taking responsibility for waste management, including biowaste and other separately collected waste fractions, is something we have been advocating for years. Only in this way can Split-Dalmatia’s municipalities reduce the enormous costs of waste disposal in one of the centers.

Čistoća d.o.o. Split is a public municipal company, and according to the examples from practice, public companies achieve higher separation rates than private ones. One of the guidelines emerging from the JEDRO project is exactly that local governments should strive for public ownership of municipal companies.


Biowaste processing capacity and waste separation infrastructure in Split

Although Čistoća d.o.o. Split has good intentions and despite the change in attitude towards biowaste, the question of biowaste processing capacity in the Split area remains open because the biostabilizer cannot address the necessary capacity for biowaste processing. According to the Čistoća d.o.o. Split director, the capacity of the biostabilizer acquired by Čistoća d.o.o. Split is eight tons per day, which is slightly less than 3 000 tons annually. According to estimates, the city of Split produces 20,000 tons of biowaste annually. By acquiring the mentioned biostabilizer, the city is unable to solve the biowaste issue. Despite years of advocacy, Split still does not have a sorting and composting facility as a key component of quality and sustainable waste management. This was emphasized at the expert conference.

“Sorting and composting facilities are key solutions for this situation. Each container for collecting only one type of waste accumulates different types of waste that are in direct contact. Without adequate sorting facilities, further recycling is not possible,” stated Mladen Perišić, senior advisor for environmental protection and nature in Split-Dalmatia County.

Available financial resources for composting facilities and sorting centers

Maja Feketić, the head of the sector for EU funds at the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund, gave additional motivation for initiating the solution of one or more compost facilities in the county. Feketić emphasized the possibility of Split-Dalmatia County applying for various grants under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) for, in this case, the construction of sorting centers and composting facilities. She highlighted that Split-Dalmatia County needs a composting facility regardless of the planned construction of the WMC Lećevica.

“It is important to put effort into building infrastructure and primary waste selection to achieve the goals. Both Croatia as a whole and each individual local government unit, with the support of the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund and the relevant Ministry, should focus on building their own infrastructure and educating citizens,” said Feketić.

Sunce educator on public workshop on waste managment

Semi-underground containers, chip technology, and promoting individual waste responsibility

While we believe that cheaper and better solutions could have been found for the separate collection of individual fractions of waste (paper, plastic, metal, and glass), including mixed municipal waste, from underground containers, we are pleased with the second phase of arranging these containers. Namely, their chipping was announced during 2024 and 2025. This will enable the monitoring of the amount of mixed municipal waste generated and the legal billing of collection and disposal.

However, several times during the meeting, it was mentioned that, besides education, it is necessary to implement a penalty system to prevent improper disposal by negligent citizens. Any contamination of separately collected fractions diminishes their value in the market. Hrvoje Akrap, a senior project management advisor from the City of Split, emphasized the need to establish a comprehensive system within which there would be control over the quantity and composition of discarded waste. We have recorded an exponential increase in the rate of separating plastic and paper at the city level, and we aim to achieve such a trend with organic waste as well.

We think that although growth has been recorded, it is still insufficient, and it is essential to continue working on ensuring infrastructure for separate collection, promoting the development of secondary raw material markets, citizen education, and particularly developing a system for monitoring and penalizing citizens who improperly and negligently dispose of waste.


Caterers are confused but willing to cooperate

Responsible waste management is based on the priorities of reduce, reuse, and recycle. Food waste, both from its preparation and from the remaining processed food, poses a significant problem for the environment, it also increases caterers’ waste disposal costs.

According to the Law on Sustainable Waste Management and the Waste Management Regulation, in the conduct of food and beverage preparation and serving activities, caterers are obliged to separately collect and hand over food waste to an authorized person or treat food waste at the place of generation. In the case of food waste self-recovery, caterers can compost a wide range of food products, such as fruits and vegetables, meat products (chicken, pork, and fish), fish bones and soft bones, soft shells (e.g., from eggs and crustaceans), liquid foods (soups, stews), bread, pasta, cereals, rice, dairy and confectionery products, coffee, and similar items.

compost in restaurant

Sustainable solutions for caterers

Sunce has numerous projects aimed at reducing the generation of food waste during food preparation, reducing the use of packaging during packaging, and similar initiatives.

At the very end, examples of good practice from the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund were presented as part of the expert conference. In 2021, the Fund conducted a pilot project in which the staff of two hotels was educated on how to reduce food waste with the goal of reducing the overall amount of food waste. A reduction of 20% in the total amount of waste was recorded.

In addition to reduction efforts, caterers can invest in acquiring equipment for processing food waste. We ourselves use such equipment in Sunce offices, and we presented it to caterers and other stakeholders last year. Read about it here.

The Fund also launches tenders for co-financing the acquisition of processing equipment. Certain hotels have been given the opportunity to process biowaste in their own facilities. This way, biowaste does not enter the waste disposal system at all, reducing operating costs.

By separating biowaste, we are taking significant steps towards a more sustainable community. Your small daily decisions make a difference, so every composted orange peel, eggshell, or coffee residue signifies an investment in the future. Think long-term, separate biowaste, and let’s build a greener future together!