Recycling system in the European Union and Czech Republic

Dr. Jiri (George) Neuzil
Co-owner and Director
Remit ltd
Czech Republic

Editor's Note: The following is a modified version of a presentation given by Dr. Jiri (George) Neuzil at the APWA Congress in Atlanta on September 12. For information concerning the upcoming Spring Conferences of the Czech Republic Public Works Association and the Slovak Public Works Association, please see page 36.

I am George Neuzil, co-owner and director of Remit. Remit was founded in 1993 and is involved in waste management, especially in separating, collecting, sorting, clearing, pressing and packaging the recyclable materials.

I would like to describe for you the current status of recycling in the European Union (EU) and Czech Republic. There are three essential recycling directives and one agreement in the Czech Republic. The first "Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste No. 94/62/EU" was adopted in 1994 and amended on 11 February 2004. Article No. 6 of this directive below deals with the recovery and recycling objectives of the directive, with specific targets.

Excerpts from Article No. 6 - Recovery and Recycling

1. In order to comply with the objectives of this Directive, Member States shall take the necessary measure to attain the following targets covering the whole of their territory:

(a) no later than 30 June 2001 between 50% as a minimum and 65% as a maximum by weight of packaging waste will be recovered or incinerated at waste incineration plants with energy recovery 

(b) no later than 31 December 2008 60% as a minimum by weight of packaging waste will be recovered or incinerated at waste incineration plants with energy recovery

(d) no later than 31 December 2008 between 55% as a minimum and 80% as a maximum by weight of packaging waste will be recycled

(e) no later than 31 December 2008 the following minimum recycling targets for materials contained in packaging waste will be attained:

(i)   60% by weight for glass;
(ii)  60% by weight for paper and board;
(iii) 50% by weight for metals;
(iv) 22.5% by weight for plastics, counting exclusively material that is recycled back into plastics;
(v)  15% by weight for wood

Article No. 7 indicates that the member states shall take the necessary measures to ensure that return, collection and recovery systems are set up to provide for return of packaging waste from the consumer.

In 1999 the Eko-Kom company was founded as the responsible organization for recovery systems. Eko-Kom provides associated compliance of take-back and recovery of packaging waste through municipal schemes of separate collection. Eko-Kom founders include Coca-Cola Beverages CR, s. s r.o., Coca-Cola CR, s. s r.o., Henkel CR s. s r.o., Pepsi-Cola CR s. s r.o., PLM AB, Procter & Gamble, s. s r.o., SIG Combibloc, s. s r.o., Schmalbach Lubeca Austira GmbH, Toma Napoje, s. s r.o., Tetra Pak - Grafobal, s. s r.o., and Unilever, CR, s. s r.o.

The take-back and recovery obligations are based on Article 3 of the Packaging Act 477/2002 Czech law. The legal base of participation in the system of associated compliance, through municipal schemes of separate collection managed by the Authorized Packaging Company, is completion of an agreement of take-back and recovery of packaging waste between Eko-Kom and the obliged entities. Similarly, the Act forms a legal base of participation in this system of associated compliance through schemes with private waste companies having contracts with municipalities, agreements for supporting the commercial producers waste recycling and the development and use of new recycling technology. This applies to any entity that places or puts into circulation any packages or products, and mainly those that produce, import or sell on the market.

Producers, importers, fillers and distributors of packages and packed products shall take back and recover packaging waste. They pay the fees to Eko-Kom, and co-finance costs of municipal and private companies' separate collection of waste and waste separation programs. The system follows a similar pattern as in other EU countries. These systems provide the same services and make up an integral part of the European municipal waste management.

Eko-Kom has been authorized by PRO-EUROPE since September 2000. This means that the Eko-Kom system fulfills all PRO-EUROPE requirements and is fully compatible with European systems of packaging take-back and recovery according to EU Directive 94/62/EU. PRO-EUROPE includes companies from the following twenty-three countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Eko-Kom's results from its inception in 1999 to the end of 2003 have been impressive. The population share participating in the program has grown from 20.7% to 93% and the weight of recycled waste per capita per year has increased from 9.27 kilograms to 28.4 kilograms.

The number of companies participating in the program has increased from 41 in 1999 to 20,754 in 2003. The share of the packaging market has increased from 17.6% to 93% in 2003. These numbers speak for themselves.

If your company imports products or packaging into any of the countries mentioned above, you should pay attention to the valid Green Dot license specific terms, which are different from country to country. Please note the green dot symbol in the center of the Eko-Kom logo. The Green Dot mark means that an obligatory entity pays a financial amount to a packaging recovery organization for the take-back and recovery of its own packaging. If you are a system member, the mark is printed on your packages or products distributed in Czech territory.

Dr. George Neuzil can be reached at

A note from Geoff Greenough, P.Eng., Commissioner of Engineering & Public Works, City of Moncton, New Brunswick; APWA Past President; and Chair, APWA/SPWA/CZPWA Task Force: "The EU concept, and specifically the Czech Republic's Eko-Kom concept, were featured in an earlier George Crombie article (October 2004, p. 20) based on his findings while on the Jennings Randolph Fellowship study, where he identified this as something we should be exploring in America. While this may not be 100% accurate, a quick review of his article should provide our readers with the proper context. George Neuzil's presentation at Congress was requested to provide a greater depth and understanding of their program."

Slovak and Czech Republics' Spring Conferences

Our two European partner associations once again will be holding their Spring Conferences back to back, making it more convenient for APWA members to participate in these conferences. In addition to their conferences, they have planned some interesting and exciting events. The Slovak conference is scheduled for April 11 and 12, and the Czech conference on April 14 and 15. Our members may also be interested in participating in some of the additional activities that they have planned.

  The Old Town in Bratislava, Slovakia's capital city

Both conferences feature two days of meetings and technical sessions, with an equipment show of over 100 different manufacturers serving our industry. You would be amazed in the differences between the equipment used in Europe versus North America. No doubt some of these differences are as a result of the higher cost of fuel in Europe and the need for equipment versatility to minimize equipment costs. Also, APWA Past President Dwayne Kalynchuk will be presenting a half-day session on management practices on Friday, April 15.

The conferences will be held in two unique locations steeped in history, both offering picturesque landscapes. The Slovak conference is in the High Tatras, with the tallest peak spiking to 2,655 meters above sea level. The conference will be at Tatranske Zruby which is about 1,000 meters above sea level in the Tatra National Park. Because of its high elevation, downhill skiing is proposed between April the 8th and 10th, prior to the Slovak conference, or for those who are less adventurous, sightseeing and shopping should be very interesting. More information on Slovakia and the High Tatras region can be found on the APWA website under About APWA, International Activities.

After the SPWA conference, the Czech Association will take over on April 13 and plan to entertain APWA guests in Olomouc, featuring a visit to a wine cellar on the 13th, going on to the conference in Jicin, 100 kilometers east of Prague.

  The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc, Czech Republic

The Region of Jicin is often referred to as the "Bohemian Paradise" offering a picturesque landscape of a unique nature, historic sites and ideal conditions for hiking and cycle touring.

Spa guests to the region, particularly Czech writers of the 19th Century, were responsible for naming the region the Bohemian Paradise. This was the first area of Czechoslovakia to be proclaimed a protected scenic district in 1955. Historic sites include many older chateaus and castles, which trace their history back to the 13th Century. More information on the Czech Republic can be found at

Following the Czech conference, the Czech Association has organized a visit to Prague from April 15 to 18 with departure home on April 19.

Don't put off your European holiday any longer! Plan now to attend these two public works events and supplement it with an extended European visit either before or after these events.

The local contacts for these two events, Milan Podzuban of Slovakia and Dr. George Neuzil of the Czech Republic, attended our APWA Congresses in San Diego and Atlanta and organized last year's conferences in these two countries. APWA was represented by Jennings Randolph Fellowship winners George Crombie and Brad Kutzner and APWA/SPWA/CZPWA Task Force Chair Geoff Greenough. Their articles on these events appeared in the October, December and June issues of the APWA Reporter, respectively. Anyone interested in these events should contact members of the APWA/SPWA/CZPWA Task Force or Geoff Greenough at for more details.

Submitted by Geoff Greenough, who can be reached at (506) 853-3527 or at


Here are just a few amazing facts about water and the treatment of it (source:

  • A quarter of the world's population is without safe drinking water.
  • Less than 1% of the water treated by public water systems is used for drinking and cooking.
  • Water makes up 75% of the human brain. 75% of trees are also made from water!
  • Water expands by 9% when it freezes, making it less dense, which is why ice floats on water.
  • You could live for a month without food, but you would be dead after a week without water.
  • In the United States forty-eight million people receive their drinking water from private or household wells.
  • Once it evaporates, a water molecule spends around ten days in the air.
  • One gallon (approximately five liters) of oil can cause an eight-acre oil slick if spilled or dumped down a storm sewer.
  • 97% of the world's water is salty or otherwise undrinkable, 2% is stored in glaciers and the ice caps, and the remaining 1% is left for humanity's needs.

Cultural Proverbs

"Be on your guard against a silent dog and still water." - Latin Proverb

"Do not bathe if there is no water." - Shan Proverb

"Don't empty the water jar until the rain falls." - Philippine Proverb

"We never know the worth of water until the well is dry." - French Proverb