Energy Diet

An Innovative Trash System in Slovenia

We are trying to minimize the quantity of our waste, but it is a difficult task. When we are shopping, we find that almost all products have lots of packaging, and this is one of the reasons for unnecessary waste. Another one, for example, is empty plastic bottles. When we stopped drinking bottled water, the amount of plastics bottles in our waste disposal was significantly reduced.

As I mentioned in our first post, separating waste depends on the system that already exists in our community. We live in a neighborhood with small private houses, where system is organized so that we have to transfer our waste from our house to a waste disposal area approximately 50 meters (55 yards) away. There, we have waste containers dedicated to glass, paper, plastic or cans and biodegradable waste.

We already separate these items, but the only problem is that the waste company doesn’t always remove it on time, so the trash cans get overloaded and it’s impossible to throw more in. On such occasions, we have put everything into the non-separated waste. Now we are trying to be more aware, and when the bins are full, we go to another nearby waste disposal area, which is approximately 100 meters (109 yards) away, on the other side of our neighborhood.

We also have avenues for disposing of old batteries at different collection places: at some bigger markets, petrol stations and some other places. We can also get rid of old electronics by bringing them back to the store — when we buy a new one, they have to take the old one back.

In Ljubljana, and also in other bigger towns of Slovenia (Maribor, Kranj, Celje, Murska Sobota) we have special waste separation areas where everyone can bring large garbage items such as furniture, machines, glass, cars, etc. In these areas everyone can leave this kind of trash for free. The aforementioned waste company recycles this trash and after recycling, industry gets raw materials for new products. We regularly use it when we make some home improvements and renovations at home. This is the way how our family participates to recycle waste and to minimize the quantities of the waste.

Kristof’s primary school, Koseze, is a member of Eco-Schools. With this program, our school is implementing Integrated Environmental Education for our children. Children also do some practical tasks like collecting old newspaper and used batteries so they can learn and work for a cleaner environment.

In the city center of Ljubljana, we don’t have the same system of waste disposal areas anymore, because garbage ended up lying around trash cans and it was a couple of days before anybody took care of it. So the city council decided to change the system to bins that store the trash underground. This kind of trash collection has helped achieve a clean city and, consequently, a higher awareness among the city’s population.

In rural areas they usually have the same system as we have in our neighborhood, but still not everywhere. There are still some smaller parts of Slovenia that are not covered with waste separation and waste recycling systems, but they are very rare and will need to change soon, because Slovenia has passed legislation (in line with EU policy) that requires every community to create a recycling program or pay a penalty.

Comments

  1. Dave Chameides
    February 14, 2011, 3:00 pm

    Hello Zupans and congrats on your progress so far. I hear your concerns regarding packaging because it seems to be the main daily waste most of us are faced with. I had no idea how much i was wasting until i was confronted with it and decided to not throw anything out or recycle anything for the year of 2008 (you can read about it at sustainabledave.org). The thing that i found was by not being able to throw something “away” I had to do some hard thinking about it. You’ve taken on a tremendous challenge here already, so I wouldn’t suggest you go a year without throwing things in the trash. That said, maybe it would help to go through everything you put in the bins for one week? This will help you identify your greatest problem areas (fantastic that you are off of bottled water by the way), and then you can make a list and see what you can do about the problem one item at a time.
    Great stuff and keep up the good work!

  2. Dave Chameides
    February 14, 2011, 3:05 pm

    I almsot forgot. Are you composting at all?

  3. clipton
    February 15, 2011, 12:54 pm

    I love the fact that you can get rid of old electronics by bringing them back to the store. Only some U.S. stores do this. If all stores were obligated to do this, I believe it might cut down on wasteful inputs into production of electronics. That’s just a theory though.

  4. Mateja
    February 17, 2011, 6:14 am

    @Dave I imagine it would be very difficult not to throw a single thing in the trash. This would really be a challenge. Maybe next year 😉 And, no, we do not composte – because we don’t have vegetable garden (my husband’s parents does) – we get vegetable from them.
    @Clipton Our stores (all of them) take back old electronics only because they have to do it according to the legislation. Otherwise, … 😉

  5. Christina
    February 17, 2011, 2:53 pm

    I didn’t know any U.S. stores at all took electronics back. It seems that as with many things regarding industry and the environment, only legislation can compel certain changes.