Agri-industrial combine "Žibel Bačka Topola" presented today a new, secondary wastewater treatment plant, which was constructed with the support of the Swiss Government. Thanks to the new facility, the level of water quality from the factory production process is now harmonized with the values prescribed in the European Union (EU). This will significantly contribute to reduction of the pollution of the Krivaja river, into which these waters are discharged, as well as the competitiveness of the products of the company "Žibel Bačka Topola" on the foreign market.

The Head of Cooperation of the Swiss Embassy in Serbia, Richard Kohli, pointed out that the construction of this plant was supported through the project "EU for the Green Agenda in Serbia", to which Switzerland contributes with 6.4 million euros. He added that Switzerland supports the green transition and reforms in Serbia with over 30 million euros in grants, which, in addition to the implementation of the Green Agenda, cover the decarbonization of the district heating sector, preparation of the first auctions of renewable energy sources, energy management, energy efficiency, as well as disaster risk recovery.

"In 2021, Switzerland and other countries adopted a resolution calling on the United Nations Human Rights Council to recognize the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right. That is why we need to work on ensuring it every day. Every initiative for green transition, in Switzerland or in Serbia, has its price, but the right financial incentives, such as the one provided by the EU Green for Agenda project, can result in significant savings, and trigger the development of innovative approaches, new innovative industries and the creation of new jobs”, Kohli added.

After wastewater treatment, large amounts of waste sludge remain, which is why "Žibel Bačka Topola" conducted research that showed that this sludge can be used to produce organic fertilizer.

"This solution contributes to reducing the pollution of the Krivaja River and better public image of the company. Further on, waste sludge that can be used to produce fertilizers is a good example for application of the circular economy principles. Also, this solution shows us that a higher degree of control of industrial processes, with appropriate expertise, leads to cleaner water, air, and a healthier environment", said Antoine Avignon, Program Manager for Environment and Climate Change of the EU Delegation to Serbia.

"Each production process generates some waste, which can gain a new purpose with little investment, thus reducing the costs of companies and preserving the environment. That is why we are glad that this company is considering investing in its own composting plant, to produce organic fertilizer from waste sludge. It is an excellent example that can serve as an inspiration for other factories in Serbia," said Žarko Petrović, UNDP Serbia Team Leader for Resilient Development. 

He invited all companies that need support to reduce pollution and decarbonize their business to apply to the Challenge Call for Innovative Solutions for the Green Transition of the Serbian Economy, within the "EU Green Agenda in Serbia" project.

In the new facility, "Žibel Bačka Topola" treats wastewater generated during the processing of slaughterhouse waste, from which they produce components for pet food.

"This factory collects waste of animal origin in 110 locations throughout the country, covering all slaughterhouses of the meat industry and poultry farming in Serbia, and thus regulating the issue of animal waste and the issue of the impact of processors on the environment. After the primary treatment plant, the secondary treatment plant opened new perspectives for us, such as sludge processing, which is why we will continue to move in the direction of ‘waste-free processing’, so that everything that is created and processed here can have a new use," said Željko Stanić, Director of the company "AIK - Žibel Bačka Topola".

The construction of a secondary wastewater treatment plant is one of the 52 innovative solutions supported so far within the project "EU for Green Agenda in Serbia", implemented with the technical and financial support by the European Union and in partnership with the Ministry of Environmental Protection by the United Nations Development Programme, in cooperation with the Embassy of Sweden and the European Investment Bank (EIB), with additional funding provided by the governments of Sweden, Switzerland and Serbia.