Waste-to-energy legal regime in Serbia

by ZS Law

Serbia was granted EU candidate status in March 2012 and its environmental policies and legal framework are strongly influenced by the EU accession negotiations. EU acquis screening of the Chapter 27 – Environment has been completed on 21 November 2014.

While the European Commission has noted, in its 2015 assessment report, that Serbia is still at an early stage of aligning policies and legislation with the environment and climate change acquis, even though some progress in further aligning was made, the Serbian Government has, according to the Post-Screening Documents, undertook to fully harmonize its national legal and regulatory framework with respect to the environmental issues by 2018.

A right to a healthy environment is provided as a human right in the Serbian Constitution. The Law on Environmental Protection is a basic law in the environmental legal framework and it sets forth the integrated system of environmental protection composed of measures, conditions and instruments for sustainable management, preservation of nature balance, integrity, diversity and quality of natural values and conditions for survival of all living beings and prevention, control, reduction and rehabilitation of all kinds of environmental pollution. Waste management is defined as implementation of prescribed measures for handling with waste as a part of collection, transport, storing, treatment and disposal of waste, including supervision over those activities and care for waste management facilities upon their closure.

The Law on Waste Management sets forth types of waste and its classification, waste management planning, stakeholders, obligations and liability with regard to waste management, specific waste streams management, requirements and procedures for the issuance of permits, transboundary waste movements, reporting, waste management financing, supervision and other relevant aspects of waste management. Waste management, according to the Law, is based on the best practicable environmental option, self-sufficiency, proximity and regional approach to waste management, waste hierarchy, responsibility and polluter-pays principles.

Waste management institutional framework is composed of the National Assembly and the Government of the Republic of Serbia, that are providing the legal framework for sustainable waste management, economic instruments for waste management implementation. The National Assembly and the Government are also influencing the development of public awareness and setting-up a dialogue between the interested parties, aiming to set-up a waste management partnership. Competent authorities and organizations responsible for waste management are the ministry in charge of the environmental protection and other competent ministries, competent authorities of the autonomous province and the local self-government units, Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Protection Fund and professional waste testing organizations.

Some of the waste energy generating management options recognized by the Serbian Waste Management Strategy includes waste incineration, pyrolysis, gasification, use of waste with high thermal potentials instead of conventional fuels. In practice, in Serbia, waste with high thermal potentials is used instead of conventional fuels in cement production, where high temperatures and long periods of energy retaining ensure a complete burning of waste. Typical waste burnt in these processes includes municipal waste, tires, used solvents, refinery waste, fat bone powder, etc. According to the available data, by May 2015, the competent authorities released six licenses with the aim of utilization of the thermal energy. Out of six issued licenses, four were related to cement production.

Pursuant to the Law on Energy, in order to perform energy-related activities, one would need an energy license issued by the Energy Agency of the Republic of Serbia, and in order to construct energy facilities, an energy permit issued by the Ministry of Mining and Energy or the local self-government unit (depending on the type and power of the facility in case). Besides the energy license and energy permit, in order to construct energy facilities, it would be necessary to obtain a building permit, pursuant to the Law on Planning and Construction, from the ministry in charge of urban planning, an Autonomous Province authority or a local self-government authority (depending on the type, power and the location of the facility in case).

According to the recently adopted Decree on incentive measures for renewable energy sources power production and high efficiency combined heat and power production, incentives are provided, until the end of 2018 for hydro, wind, solar and geothermal power plants, biomass, biogas, landfill and sewage gas power plants and waste fired power plants. Incentive measures include the incentive period of 12 years, guaranteed feed-in tariff, no balancing responsibility and no balancing costs and free of charge access to the power transmission, i.e. distribution system.

Živković Samardžić overview on waste-to-energy  legal regime in Serbia was recently published in OGEL 3 (2016) Special on Waste-to-Energy (WtE). To receive electronic off-print of the article, please subscribe to our newsletter via form provided on this page. You can also subscribe to the Oil, Gas & Energy Law (OGEL) peer-reviewed academic journal covering all aspects of law pertaining to oil, gas, and energy in general, where our article was originaly published, here.

For more details or any questions, please contact Slobodan Kremenjak at slobodan.kremenjak@zslaw.rs, Miloš Stojković at milos.stojkovic@zslaw.rs, or any of your regular contacts at Živković Samardžić.