The existing system of waste management and recycling in Serbia and Hungary, as well as in most countries with similar economic parameters, is quite expensive to manage, also inefficient, with very little recyclable materials separated. At the same time, informal waste collectors (mainly members of the Roma national minority, youth) have been collecting significant amount of secondary raw materials for a low fee for decades under very bad working conditions. Establishing horizontal linkages between informal collectors and their inclusion in the waste management system could significantly contribute to the introduction of all waste streams into legal channels, as well as their position and access to the right to work. One of the greatest obstacles for the improvement of the position of informal collectors which is seen as an advantage in formal enterprise is the communication and cooperation with Operators for waste packaging in border region – organizations that are in charge of putting down the system of collection and treatment of waste packaging, which is the most common to collect. In order to achieve high recycling targets set by the European Union, and the legal and policy framework in Serbia and Hungary defined by the national objectives, it is necessary to look for innovative solutions. Moreover, the inclusion of informal collectors in the system of waste management at the local level with the support of utility companies, local municipalities, the government and civil society organizations, can significantly contribute to the cost reduction of waste collection and separation of recyclable materials, as well as to increase the amount of materials collected.

Problem, challenge to be addressed

Collection of recyclable materials in the border region is often undertaken by informal waste collectors, mostly young Roma people. Separate waste collection is a major precondition for recycling, which plays a major role in circular economy. However, if recycling is to be carried out professionally, a much greater efficiency and a much more appropriate institutional support is needed. The proposed project will additionally ensure that the disadvantaged group of Roma youth will not lose its current source of income as a consequence of the creation of a modern waste management system, but exactly the opposite. Moreover, youth Roma waste collectors from the border region will have support secured by partner organizations in aim to legalize their operations through establishing a social enterprise. The newly established social enterprise will assist youth Roma waste collectors in legalizing their current informal activities and thus foster adequate inclusion in existing business sector in the border region.

Target groups

The target group will be composed of: Young Roma people from the border region, with particular attention paid to young Roma with low level of education (no elementary school), young Roma people with disabilities, and young Roma women, as well as local and regional elementary school children. The final beneficiary group will be composed of young Roma people, with low level of education (no elementary school, NEET), young Roma people with disabilities, young Roma women, the waste collection industry, the Municipality of Novi Kneževac, the City of Szeged, the KEFE Association, tourists visiting the border region, mainly urban locations.

Expected outpust, results, duability of results

• TG informed systematization of the existing/potential capacities of informal Roma youth waste collectors;
• Improved knowledge of TG Social enterprise establishment and functioning.
• Roma youth informal waste collectors introduced with the benefits of shifting into the formal employment through the social enterprise;
• AS-IS analysis of the existing capacities of Roma youth informal waste collectors conducted and the other preconditions assessed;
• Roma youth informal waste collectors selected, educated for safe work, and employed;
• Necessary permits obtained and equipment provided;
• Sustainable cooperation with operators of waste packaging and waste recycling established;
• Mid-term results disseminated by the project partners;
• International best practices transferred;
• Lessons learned & best practices guide developed and disseminated.

Benefits of the project

The establishment of the social enterprise will move managerial knowledge and skills of Roma youth from present status that is practically zero to the standard managerial status. Those skills and knowledge will be further developed by several activities which encompass the exchange of experiences by best practice and lessons learned presentations and other similar experiences. Also, the cross-border cooperation will contribute to the exchange of experiences. Technical capacity of the groups will be improved by trainings in environmental and health protection aspects and techniques of the collection and selection of the solid waste. Modern and efficient technical devices such as electric bicycles and personal protection equipment have been included in the pre-conditions for quality collecting, selection and deposing.

Methodological approach

The smooth running of the project and its future sustainability is made possible by its continued collaboration with partner organisations. We would like to emphasise the importance of teamwork, as the ability to work with others is an important factor in most jobs. Team building helps to distribute responsibilities and tasks better among the team members. The project will be implemented along this methodology as it facilitates internal evaluation, successful performance and results.
We will follow an adult learning approach that takes into account the specific nature of the target group. Supportive training materials will be provided for the trainees involved in the project. To ensure greater access and transparency, the target groups will participate in training courses and workshops. The trainings will involve 40-50 participants with a high level of understanding, where they will learn about health, technical and environmental topics. During the training sessions, they will learn about the correct sorting process and the types of materials (paper, metal, plastic, glass and wood), while the workshops will give them the opportunity to practice, e.g. selective collection using different technical equipment.
The project will also involve external organisations and experts who can provide professional support. The external organisations will carry out activities such as printing posters, providing technical equipment, workshops and training venues.

Cross-border impact

The optimally composed partnership allows applicants to systematically and sustainably approach the key beneficiaries & stakeholders and gain all the relevant inputs with regard to the improvement of the current obsolete and unsecure practices of informal youth waste collectors in order to make them an integral part of the effective, efficient and inclusive system in the cross-border area. Collection of recyclable materials in the border region is often undertaken by informal waste collectors, mostly young Roma people. Separate waste collection is a major precondition for recycling, which plays a major role in circular economy. However, if recycling is to be carried out professionally, a much greater efficiency and a much more appropriate institutional support to this paradigm is needed. The proposed project will additionally ensure that the disadvantaged group of Roma youth will not lose its current source of income as a consequence of the creation of a modern waste management system, but exactly the opposite. All practices and procedures will be offered to other local self-governments as a model of implementation. Social enterprise will also continue to work on both side of the border since the headquarter of the company will be in Serbia and a branch office in Hungary.

Contribution to programme strategy and horizontal objectives

SENTREM Project is fully in line with overall aim of the Program: ‘harmonized development of the region with intensified economic cooperation through sustainable use of natural and cultural resources’, ‘Enforcing the growth capabilities and employment potential of SMEs through the development and adaptation of new technologies, processes, products or services’. SENTREM Project will assist vulnerable groups in the border region of Serbia and Hungary in gaining adequate education to establish legitimate business through the establishment of a social enterprise. The newly established social enterprise will assist members of vulnerable groups in more secure and technically improved procedure of waste collection and recycling. New jobs will be created and ecology standards in the border region will be increased as regional waste collection is improved.

Consistency of the project with EU horizontak policy on equal opportunities

All the activities include cross-cutting principles of raising the awareness of the general public regarding the employment of disadvantaged groups and their equal participation in the labor market, the promotion of principles of gender equality and equal opportunities, fostering inter-sectorial cooperation, the effective use and conservation of resources, the involvement of the target group in the design of the action, upgrading human capital, increasing transformative potential and the elimination of inequality in society. All the activities will be implemented in line with employment rules and regulations as defined by the existing legal framework.

Consistency of the project with EU horizontal policy on sustainable development

SENTREM Project covers labor market and employment, human capital and skills, social inclusion and social protection as well as the checked innovation approach. It is directly linked with the achievements of the European Union’s growth strategy for the coming decade, the Europe 2020 strategy which aims to deliver smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The proposal is setting the scene for improvement of one of the most vulnerable groups – the Roma youth ethnic minority. It proposes the establishment of a social enterprise for waste collection, a job that has been traditionally done by members of the Roma population (mostly youth) for many decades. Moreover, this proposal is directly linked with a resource-efficient Europe, one of the seven flagship initiatives part of the Europe 2020 strategy aiming to generate growth and jobs, especially ‘green’ jobs, such as jobs in the field of waste management. A positive social impact will be achieved by establishing a social enterprise for Roma youth collectors excluded from the labour market, but greatly valuable in environmental and social best interests.

Synergies with other policies, programmes and projects

This project is fully in line with Pillar 2 of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region: Protecting the Environment in the Danube Region and Pillar 3: Building Prosperity in the Danube Region. Full alignment with the Waste Framework Directive remains to be achieved and enforcement of waste legislation needs to be improved as well, which the project directly contributes to. The Employment and Social Reform Programme (ESRP), which was adopted in May 2016, primarily covers labor market and employment, human capital and skills, social inclusion and social protection, as well as challenges in the pension and healthcare systems. Roma inclusion in the formal labor market is seen as one of the mayor issues, and waste management bears the potential for opening green jobs for Roma population. In December 2015, the European Commission adopted a Circular Economy Package. The aim of the package is to ensure that all resources are managed more efficiently over their full life cycle, which can lead to economic growth and can generate new jobs. The European Union is currently in the transition to a more circular economy, where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible. Such a transition is the opportunity to create local jobs at all skill levels and opportunities for social integration and cohesion. Green economy has a lot of potential to help reduce poverty by assisting vulnerable people to gain the necessary skills and work experience to access green jobs. In order to reach targets of Europe 2020, it is necessary to improve the access of vulnerable groups to green jobs at local level.

Innovative character

In the present situation BEE (Business Enabling Environment) is favorable for proposed innovative business activity. For the near future, business analysts predict rising interest for efficient and effective removal of the solid waste from urban, especially downtown areas, and their recycling as much as possible. The established social enterprise will be a visible partner in the growing circular economy which guarantees the fast growth of the business. Applicants will work on building the capacity of social enterprise management to address future challenges and thus reach innovative actors in action.

Sustainability and capitalization of project results

Financial sustainability: Applicants will enable the social enterprise to be an independent player on the market, responsible regarding incomes, salaries, costs and distribution of profits. Own profit on the market is the best guarantee of sustainability.
Institutional sustainability: the legalisation of the now illegal waste pickers of Roma youth is a major shift towards institutionalisation. A social enterprise that is empowered and proven to operate in a real market will be a signal for others to follow suit. Initial business capacity can be easily scaled up through new projects, investments and donor activities. There will be an institutionalised and prepared fund.
Policy level sustainability: The inclusion of illegal waste collectors into a legal business and innovative methods by which applicants and the Roma population will create an example for law-makers on how to resolve same or similar problem in other regions or economic branches. Especially, the implementation of law about social enterprises will be touched and also, resolving, by usage of existing legal frames, heavy socio-economic problems of the urban communities in border region.
Environmental sustainability: The management of solid waste in the urban community is an environmental problem and challenge. Applicants and stakeholders have been put challenges on the first place and by the usage of innovative methods of improving BEE will start to resolve problems. As a result, they expect environmental development within the community.
The improvements will be the following:
• Better quality of solid waste removal from the generating places,
• About 50% of the waste will be selected and prepared for recycling,
• Actors in the process, the Roma youth, will be adequately trained to act safely,
• Equipment that they will use will be eco-friendly, including electric bicycles.

Multiplier effect

Applicants have a plan to disseminate the results of the project in several ways and manners to other disadvantaged members of the border region population, involving other local self-governments and regional municipalities and other Roma communities. Results will be disseminated through the website, meetings and events where authorities from applicant organizations will participate, especially from the Municipality of Novi Kneževac. A special event will be a midterm results dissemination event. Applicants considered that the event (festival) tailored in accordance with Roma traditions will be very attractive for this purpose. The project will be visible to the wider public through the dissemination of results on environmental, touristic fairs and exhibitions or similar events where media will hear the results from direct implementers. A guide specially produced for this purpose will serve as support. The project results will support contacts and events organized for exchange of experiences, best practices and lessons learned in the border region or any other places for organizations and participants with similar purposes.

Risk management (possible internal/external constraints and solutions foreseen)

The main internal risk is that the campaign will not be interesting enough and the target group will turn away. As a mitigating measure, campaign activity can be strengthened by helping to raise awareness of the outcomes that can benefit them and the community in the long term. Another risk factor may be that the AS-IS analysis does not show useful results. To avoid this, the analysis should be monitored and inappropriate indicators should be corrected in a timely manner. It is important to establish the social enterprise with proper registration and establishment licenses. For this, the continuous intervention of the legal team is essential. A negative impact may result if the enterprise does not achieve its results. Throughout the project, the social cooperative will make efforts to avoid this and will consult on an ongoing basis.