October 2, 2019 / 11:39 AM / 13 days ago

EBRD to invest in major landfill near Serbia's capital

BELGRADE (Reuters) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development plans to invest 72.25 million euros ($78.86 million) to help Serbia’s capital Belgrade in the cleanup of a huge landfill just outside the city and construction of a new one, the lender said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: The sun is reflected off the windows of headquarter of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in central London, Britain, November 22, Britain 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Serbia faces massive challenges to bring its long-neglected environmental procedures and greenhouse gas emissions to the standards required if it wants to join the European Union, a task estimated to cost around 15 billion euros ($17 billion).

The EBRD funds are needed for an energy-from-waste facility in Belgrade’s suburb of Vinca where the landfill is located, a waste demolition plant, and also for the closing of the existing landfill and making of a new EU-compliant one.

“The EBRD is contributing a 72.25 million euros loan for its own account, while arranging a syndicated loan of 35 million euros for the account of participants,” the lender said in a statement.

The EBRD will also “mobilize 21 million euros in concessional finance” funded by TaiwanICDF development fund, it said.

“Closing the old site – which poses a major environmental and health risk, including the pollution of the nearby river Danube ... is a top priority for the government of Serbia and the City of Belgrade,” it said.

Serbia recycles only around 3 percent of its municipal waste and up to 40 percent of packaging, far from the 65 percent required by the EU by 2025.

The total investment “will be mobilized” by Beo Cista Energija Ltd., formed by the SUEZ utility company, the Japanese conglomerate Itochu and Marguerite Fund, a equity fund which is investing in renewables, energy and transport, the EBRD said.

In 2017 the three companies entered a 25-year public-private partnership with Belgrade’s city hall, making it the first such large-scale environmental investment in the region.

The new landfill will have the capacity to process around 340,000 tonnes of household waste and around 210,000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste per year, the EBRD said.

(This story corrects data in last paragraph to around 340,000 tonnes of household waste per year and around 210,000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste per year.)

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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