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Smart Urban Packaging Waste Collection System

  • Published on February 17, 2023

Objective of the project is to establish sustainable operational model for smart packaging waste collection in urban areas in Serbia.

Since SDG12 includes targets focused on environmentally sound management of all waste through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse (targets 12.4 and 12.5), the project significantly contributes to the Sustainable Development Goal 12. The project is stiving for digital solution (environmentally sound technologies SDG 12.a) based on awarding scheme in order to foster collection of packaging waste and motivate citizens to engage for the higher engagement and improved collection services. On the other hand, smart system for collection of packaging waste enables real time data collection (by sensors installed into collection devices) and data processing which contribute to better operational planning of recycling system. This information can provide inputs for better decision making and much efficient waste management.

Changing consumer behavior and recycling valuable resources during the consumption phase is one of the key elements. Nevertheless, collected material will be used as secondary raw materials in the production of new packaging products contributing to sustainable usage of material and resources, which leads to less need for energy, lower pollution of air and water, and savings of greenhouse gas emissions, in particular carbon dioxide reduction. Recycling aluminum, for example, saves 90% of energy and decreases air pollution by 95%. Aluminum cans are a perfect example of circularity since they can be recycled infinitely without loss of material quality.  

When it comes to the consumption phase, the project is directly oriented to awareness raising for sustainable consumption. During the project, several promotional campaigns are conducted which are directly oriented toward consumers in shopping areas. The smart collection machines are placed in Mercator-S shops in two cities in Serbia and awards for recycling are provided by this partner. Through the mobile app, consumers are collecting points for each packaging unit they return to the machine. For all of them who collect a certain number of points, Mercator-S have provided valuable discounts (up to 25% for selected articles) and for the best recyclers, they have provided very attractive awards such as e-scooter, shopping vouchers, or similar. In this way, consumers are motivated to participate in recycling campaigns and thus to directly contribute to sustainable consumption.

The displayed monitored impacts relate to the period from July 2020 to July 2022.


Cost savings due to the project is estimated up to 10-20%, as indirect savings from diverting waste from landfills and avoidance of CO2 emissions.

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