We, the signed organizations and associations, strongly condemn the the hiring of private companies by the Public Utility Company “Čistoća” regarding securing of communal waste containers in Novi Sad.
This measure is aimed at preventingunregistered collectors of secondary raw materials from collecting recyclable waste from communal containers in the territory of Novi Sad, thus providing the most vulnerable members of our society basic existence for themselves and their families. In the struggle for bare survival, in Serbia, 30,000 unregistered collectors perform a socially useful job of collecting waste for recycling, and we claim the Republic of Serbia has achieved the greatest progress in this area thanks to their work.
According to the Serbian Association of Recyclers of Packaging Waste, over 80% of the quantities recycled by domestic recycling plants of PET bottles, come from unregistered collectors, while public utility companies collect only 1% of old recycled paper in Serbia.
This statistic best illustrates the situation in the field of waste management and to what extent local governments, utility companies, competent ministries, and companies have failed to implement the environmental laws and strategies brought in 2009, while being obliged to apply “the polluter pays everything” principle and provide investments in the system for separate collection of recyclable waste.
Regardless of the fact that the Law on Waste Management and the Law on Communal Activities stipulate that the communal waste disposed inspecified containers belongs to the public utility company, this act is an attack on the common sense of the citizens of Novi Sad and Serbia and from the point of view of humanity is an unscrupulous violation of human rights, and from the standpoint of the economy, an unreasonable decision that citizenspay the public money to a private company for a suspicious purpose. Wemust warn that 70% of collectors are members of the Roma national minority who, due to the high unemployment rate, poor living conditions and ethnic prejudices, find it difficult get a job in the community in which they live, thus jeopardizing the basic human right guaranteed by the Constitution in Article 60 –the right to work.
We are uniting to show our support for people who are unable to feed their families in another way and get involved in legal workflows and who are not entitled to the most basic working rights. We think that their work is legitimate and socially useful, and therefore must be legal in all respects. By collecting waste for recycling, the collectors contribute to their community, feed their families, spend their earned money in neighborhood stores, pay electricity, water, educate their children, and participate in the economic recovery of their country. At this moment, the collectors represent the core of the circular economy in Serbia, ensuring the discovery of new values from the waste and reducing the indisputable damage that comes from its disposal in the living environment.
We are appealing to the competent authorities at the local and republic level, that the establishment of the waste management system in Serbia must be based on the principles of environmental, social and economic sustainability, environmental protection and the Earth Charter, as a declaration on the basic social principles of human progress in the 21st century.
The accumulated problems in the collection and disposal of waste in Novi Sad, and in the area, must be solved by the efficient work of all competent services, municipal police and utility companies that have the necessary power and through dialogue with all participants in the process of collecting secondary raw materials, in order to provide respect for human rights and find an alternative, legitimate and stable solution for the employment of informal collectors of secondary raw materials.
We are warning that the transfer of authority to private agencies for physical security and the granting themto assess who is a “suspicious person” and the right to restrict his freedom of movement, far exceeds the well-known practice and leaves an enormous opportunity for abuse and discrimination.
Bearing in mind alltheaforementioned arguments that support the importance of collectors for the recycling sector, the environment and the community in general, we consider that the issue of their position within the municipal waste management system is not a mere “technical issue” that concerns only the PUC “GradskaČistoća Novi Sad ”.What is more, it hasalready become an important political issue. Therefore, we urge the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the relevant Ministries to recognize the interest of all the citizens of the State of Serbia to build their future on the principles of solidarity and circular economy and to initiate the process of inclusion of informal collectors of secondary raw materials.Moreover,as a society, we are responsible for ensuring a healthy and secure future, for their children, as well as for ours.
The appeal signed by:
Republican syndicate of collectors of secondary raw materials
Serbian Association of Packaging Recycling Recyclers
Citizens’ Association – Bajsologija
Association Roma Koperativa, Niš
Association of Roma Students / Ћидипе е РроманеСтудентоненго
Young researchers of Serbia
Initiative for Democratic Transitions
Society of Young Researchers, Bor
Eco movement BelabrezaKruševac
OKZ Roma Educational Cultural CommunitiyRomanipen
NGO Porečje, Vučje
Association DobriLjudi, Valjevo
Ecological movement “Moravski orašak”, Trstenik
Zrenjanin Youth Development Organization –ZORO
Left Summit of Serbia:
PARISS, Kragujevac, Jagodina and Sjenica
UGCitizens’ Association Solidarnost, Subotica
Center for emancipation policies, Belgrade
Context Collective, Belgrade
Serbian Roma Forum STRIKE, Novi Sad
Social Center Oktobar, Belgrade
Zrenjanin Social Forum, Zrenjanin
Green youth of Serbia
Association for Labor Rights of Women “Roza”, Zrenjanin