The idea of recycling is a new trend in Macedonia, but it is still not part of the habits of most of the people here. I noticed that there is still some deficiency but also some positive results about the system here and I think that it is essential to inform people, especially the young, to help changing mentalities.
The decision of Macedonia to harmonize its legislation with EU regulations has led to start a national program in 2010 in order to raise awareness among the population and set up easiest way for recycling. That is why the manufacturing companies decided to regroup and found bigger groups for the management of packaging waste. Pakomak is the most famous company, they promote a responsible attitude towards packaging waste, try to minimize the negative environmental impact and ensure a better quality of life for all. Pakomak is now very active in a lot of cities in Macedonia, by making some events or donating some containers to help collecting waste. With the glass bottles, the papers, the plastic bags or even other packaging materials they can re-use it and make something useful from the trash. Yellow bins are used for plastic packaging and green ones for food or garden waste but I feel like a lot of people are not aware about this and don’t really care. You can see everything melts in different bins and makes the selection for future proper use harder.
Apart from those companies, most of the recycling process is made by free riders mostly from Roma community. Upon arriving in Skopje, I began to notice horse and motorcycle carts filled to the brim with cardboard or plastic, standing by the side of the road attended by a child while a relative searching for more materials in the trash bin. This kind of recycling is considered informal as they take plastic bottles and papers from the containers to sell it to some private recycling centres such as Komuna. This is a difficult work, and it is unrecognized as employment by the government. On one hand, many people in Skopje recognize the service being done but on the other hand they take the bottles and papers from the containers given by Pakomak for example, which is the major source of profitable waste. And this is the main problem between the cohabitation of those two different systems in the same city.
As a non-native speaker in Skopje for only a brief period of time and without full resources needed to develop many conclusions, I recognize that the research I have done barely scratches the surface of these two interconnected issues. So far, I cannot put a note that a lot of effort is made in this field but now the hardest part remains to be done: changing mentalities of the population regarding recycling. There are too many plastic bags given while shopping, too much waste packaging thrown on the street, and people need to learn how to make the selection between all their domestic trash.
Volunteers Center Skopje