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Filed under: Development 2.0 Environment Social inclusion Social innovation

Trash on a hill in front of a marvellous blue bay

Dumping waste, Montenegro

Do you know what were the most common complaints of tourists this year in Montenegro?

And no, dumping of waste didn’t make the top of the list.

Now, when summer is behind us, and after six months of running the mobile application and online platform, it’s time to have a good, long look at the reporting of waste dumps in Montenegro.

Just a brief reminder on what we’ve been up to: In December 2012, we started developing the idea for a crowd map so that people could report illegal waste dumping in Montenegro and had the first version of a mobile application and online platform developed and ready for piloting in April 2013.

The campaign for piloting the app and locating waste dumps in Montenegro started in April and ended with an international conference on using new technologies for environmental monitoring.

Thanks to constructive comments from citizens who participated in the campaign, the app has undergone further adjustments. The final version of the mobile application and online platform was ready mid June when it was handed over to EPA Montenegro.

From April 2013 to today more than 260 reports were received and around 170 waste dumps were reported.

Just in the last couple of months alone, more than 40 reports were received through the app, email or directly through the online platform. Although the public response has been good, we know that Montenegro can do better, and an awareness campaign led by national institutions is needed. The more the citizens get involved, the more locations reported – along with more pressure for authorities to clean up the sites.

Where were most dumps reported? So far most reports come from Podgorica – 33, from Tivat and Kotor – 32, and from Berane – 26.

You are probably saying, reporting is easy but what about cleaning up the dumping that’s reported? Well, cleaning up is still an issue in most Montenegrin municipalities due to different reasons, such as: limited capacities of responsible utility services, obsolete technology for waste collection, lack of good will.

Further efforts have to be made at national level to increase capacities of utility services in Montenegrin municipalities for efficient and reliable waste collection and disposal.

But, the situation is not as hopeless as you might think. We have some positive examples on waste dumps removals  in Herceg Novi, Niksic, Savnik, Cetinje and Podgorica.

The steps forward are cumbersome and slow, and more effort has to be put into increasing public awareness about responsible waste disposal. The truth is that there is a lot we, as citizens, can do. We can gather our friends, family, and neighbours together, pull up our sleeves and first clean up our own neighbourhoods – and invite other neighbourhoods to join the action.

What can we do? Be responsible, become a partner to your municipality and keep reporting waste dumps.

How you can do it? By using the mobile application, and follow the action of your municipality on the online platform for reporting waste dumps.

Montenegro took on the issue of waste and waste dumping and we know it will be a long and sometimes painful fight, but we are determined to make our country a clean and green place to live.

Waste is everyone’s responsibility and we would like to hear your thoughts about what else should be done to give people incentives to produce less waste and dispose of waste in a responsible way – and encourage municipalities to partner with citizens in waste management issues.

Have you organized any cleanups in your community? We’d love to hear how you went about it – and what you learned.

And we’d love to see more green dots on the crowdmap!

  • Kirsi Hyvaerinen

    Some comments, sighs and suggestions – wondering since 10 years now why the struggle here seems never ending.
    Alone the dignity and pride of Montenegro´s people for their own country should be reason enough to keep it clean of garbage – but it is not. The most scenic backcountry roads and viewpoints – look down and in 90% of the cases you will find a waste dump.
    1) In other countries, it is simply illegal to dump waste (or just throw garbage) in the nature.
    - One type of a road sign in Canada shows the fine for dumping outside of approved waste sites, 250 dollars. The country is clean.
    - The Swedish law (2011) fines 800 crowns (about 90 Euro) for a can. The country is clean.
    - Given the highest density of police officers in Europe (839 vs. 208 per 100,000 inhabitants in Sweden) – where is the problem to publish and implement a law?
    - The attached picture is made at Frankfurt airport. Positive example of what money might move.

    2) Municipality not collecting any fee to organise a regular collection service (most normal task and obligation of a municipality), but complaing for over 2 months that the lorry, which should be doing this, is broken. The only logic left is incompetence.

    3) I collect from my daily walk (about 500m) a daily (!) bag of waste, thrown out of cars – cans, bottles, food and sweet packs, plastic bags, car oil bottles, even diapers (not a joke). That makes 365 bags per year. If this indifferent attitude of people does not change, the country will drown in its own garbage one day soon.

    4) One neighbour prefers to dump his waste into a pristine river. He has a car, drives out to town regularly, and the containers are on his way. So what? Into the river is out of sight, out of mind, landing in someone else´s garden.

    5) Food and drink producers: It does not cost a cent more to print an educational sentence and a picture for their consumers to dispose of the package (cans, bottles etc.) responsibly. Niksicko pivo could start? Their cans land a LOT in Montenegro´s nature.

    I know, difficult is worth doing. But with a population of 650,000 – this should not qualify as difficult.

    • Snezana Marstijepovic

      Dear Mrs Hyvaerinen,
      Thank you for sharing with us your experiences on lack of public awareness for responsible waste disposal and for providing examples of other countries in resolving waste dump issues. It is true that Montenegro currently has a weak waste management system and that citizens keep disposing their waste wherever they want, however it is true as well that the Government of Montenegro has recognized the problem and is working on resolving the issue. Since solution for an efficient waste management system is connected with significant investments, it is expected to be a slow process. Saying this it doesn’t mean that we, citizens of Montenegro, should sit and wait until progress happens but we all need to engage and be part of the solution. Therefore, jointly with EPA Montenegro and NGO Ozon we have developed the crowdmap for locating waste dumps to provide citizens, like me and you, an instrument for locating waste dumps in our neighborhoods to support local utility services to find and dispose the waste dumps and to get connected with neighbors, friends and fellow citizens to get together and resolve the issue in their neighborhood.

      I am looking forward to your further possible comment

      All the best
      Snezana Marstijepovic

  • James

    I am glad you have developed the crowdmap for locating the dump site . This should postpone any real organization of your garbage collection system for another decade. I see many issues in the country. Educating the children at a young age to recycle would be a good start but I guess that would not work unless the government introduces a recycling program. Montenegro was once an ecological country your government should put more effort into recycling and creating raw energy out of the garbage. With all the educated people in your country it should be a simple task to develop a strategic plan and implement it. I would be willing to convert your garbage into clean energy in the form of electric power .

    • Snezana Marstijepovic

      Dear James

      Thank you for your comment and for your great suggestion related to organizing and running a strong campaign for children in schools, establishing and implementing the 4Rs in waste management (reduction, reuse, recycling and recovery) and to using garbage as energy source. Please be informed that the Government of Montenegro (GoM) is working on developing a new national and local management plans which will be in compliance with the 4Rs. In addition, the GoM is about to adopt a new national energy strategy for Montenegro until 2030 which is addressing biogas from landfills as a possible energy source.

      Thank you for your comment in relation to the crowd map. The idea behind the crowd map is not to replace the national system for waste collection in Montenegro/the utility services in MNE municipalities, but to support and upplement them in the best possible way. We strongly believe that citizens are an important part of the solution in establishing an efficient waste management system in Montenegro and that both, utility services on one side and citizens on the other have to start to cooperate and partner on waste related, and other issues.

      Staying to your disposal for further discussion on the subject

      All the best
      Snezana Marstijepovic