With more than 40 years of unmanaged waste next to the Danube, Vinca – Belgrade’s only landfill – has been listed among the world’s top 50 most polluted dumpsites by the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA). The 130-hectare site, equivalent to 180 football fields, had never officially been a disposal area and lacked basic landfill facilities, including drainage systems. Posing a severe environmental hazard, local authorities decided to redevelop the existing landfill to revolutionise Belgrade’s waste management.

A new landfill with proper lining and irrigation is being created after the previous site’s closure. This included a specific facility to treat construction and demolition waste alongside a new waste-to-energy plant, where non-recyclable waste will be incinerated and turned into energy. 

To deliver the significant redevelopment, Belgrade is working with the Beo Clean Energy (Beo ─îista Energija) consortium, including French utility SUEZ, Japanese company Itochu and Luxembourg fund Marguerite. Arup was appointed by Beo Clean Energy to carry out an independent Social and Environmental audit on behalf of funders European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank group. 

Inspecting the environmental impact 

Located 15km from the city centre and in operation since 1977, Vinca was one of Europe’s largest open dumping landfills, hosting more than 700,000 tonnes of yearly waste. Almost constantly on fire, it covered the city in a noxious fog, with fumes were absorbing into the soil during rainy seasons. 

Following 2014’s earthquake that triggered several landslides, the landfill became unstable and made the site more dangerous – increasing the risk of contaminating the Danube. The existing landfill will be redeveloped to comply with sanitary and safety standards over the next four years. Since August 2019, Arup has provided site supervision and monitoring services to ensure the implementation of the different social and environmental measures set out in the project plan, including prevention of further contamination of the Danube basin and its groundwater by creating compartmentalised areas to store the variety of hazardous waste. 

 

Best Utilities project

A small recycling centre, road infrastructure and a dam will be developed alongside a waste-to-energy facility. Noxious leachate from the old site will be collected and treated in the new facilities using reverse osmosis, while the methane will be captured and re-used as an energy source – a project which has won the 2020 Gold Award for Best Utilities Project by partnerships Bulletin.

As well as ensuring the redevelopment has a positive impact on the local community and environment, our team provided technical advice to Lenders regarding the installations under construction. This includes landfill gas collection and leachate removal from the existing landfill mass to manage toxic water and environmentally harmful methane – all while generating electricity in the process. 

Re-skilling: addressing the social dimension

The site’s redevelopment offers new opportunities for many current workers. Aligned with funders EBRD and IFC requirements to address the project’s social dimension, our specialists designed a support and re-skilling programme that offers a path forward for workers, who often stem from the marginalised Roma community. Arup’s team will carry out a detailed audit assessing the programme’s roll-out to help staff find new jobs, supported by a range of surveys and interviews with the community.

Vinca aims to improve the use of communal waste as renewable energy source, while caring for the environmental and local residents. Arup was key to facilitate the smooth delivery of this major project.

Mitsuaki Harada, Vladimir Milovanovic, Philippe Thiel

Managing directors of Beo Čista Energija Ltd.

Investory advisory support 

Alongside Belgrade Airport, Vinca is the first of two successful Serbian projects under a Public Private Partnership (PPP), a collaborative yet complex framework for infrastructure project delivery. Arup’s extensive experience of PPPs and local knowledge helped Beo ─îista Energija LTD navigate the institutional landscape, balancing the local authority and international bank needs to deliver a successful project under a public-private partnership framework.

Based on our experience of working with development banks, the team provided the client with ongoing advisory support during stakeholder negotiations, including local authorities. Arup’s in-depth knowledge of local legislation was key to unlock the project roll-out, building local capability for future cooperation with development institutions.

Vinca waste to energy facility under construction
Redevelopment works progressing at Belgrade's Vinca landfill