Zero Waste Europe is happy to introduce the blog series “Meet our members”. Through this series of monthly interviews, we want to give you a chance to get to know our members and the work they are doing.
Meet Marina Tomovic from Zero Waste Montenegro, Montenegro
Hi Marina, can you give us a brief introduction to Zero Waste Montenegro?
Zero Waste Montenegro was founded in March 2015 with the goal to create a national network willing to support the Government of Montenegro to achieve the goals of the current National Waste Management Plan 2014-2020 related to the Zero Waste Strategy.
Zero Waste Montenegro’s (ZWMNE) vision is to facilitate a culture change within Montenegro that will result in a marked improvement in waste reduction, reuse and recycling. Our activities range from awareness raising on zero waste and the circular economy among citizens, municipalities, local NGOs and government bodies, to advising municipal public utility companies on the implementation of their solid waste management plans by providing guidance on how to optimise operational processes in recycling units.
Since its creation, several motivated volunteers have joined the team and given their time to a cause they strongly believe in – with a couple of them working part-time for the organisation on a project by project basis.
How long have you been in the field and what got you into (Zero) Waste?
I grew up very much in and around nature and because of that, but also thanks to my mum, I always had a high level of environmental consciousness. When I heard about ZWMNE and the work they were doing in Montenegro I wanted to be a part of that and give my own contribution to the challenging task they took up. At the end of 2018, I joined the ZWMNE team guided by the strong motivation to see Montenegro change its relationship towards the environment and nature, and to help raise awareness about zero waste and the circular economy first among my family, neighbours, friends and subsequently to fellow citizens across Montenegro.
What is your current role in the organisation?
I started as a volunteer in ZWMNE but with enough motivation and enthusiasm I advanced to my first role as a Press and PR Officer. Besides that, more recently I have been engaged as a Project Consultant on a couple of projects as well. At the same time I am also a part of the Board of the organisation.
Tell us more about one ongoing campaign/activity you’re working on?
With my colleague Alexandra Aubertin, who is the founder of the organisation, we are working on tackling single-use plastics usage in public institutions in Montenegro, which is funded by the Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP/RAC) and is the first activity of its kind in Montenegro. Apart from that, I am managing an awareness raising campaign with the support of the British Embassy in Montenegro which is following up on our International Coastal Cleanup Day and Waste Audit 2019 results and data, an activity which we organise each September on Montenegro’s beaches, river beds and lakes. All of our projects have a focus on communicating the level and seriousness of plastic pollution while promoting zero waste lifestyle. Simultaneously, we are advocating for efficient waste management systems, deposit return schemes (DRS), and a nation-wide plastic bag and single-use plastic ban across Montenegrin public authorities.
If there was one thing that you would like your organisation to be known for, what would it be?
I would really like to see Montenegrin public institutions go plastic-free with our help! The project of SCP/RAC we are currently working on gives Montenegrin authorities a great opportunity to apply all of our expert recommendations regarding the prevention of single use plastics in public institutions. We really hope they will recognise the importance of setting up an example in Montenegro by going plastic-free and eventually transitioning towards zero waste public institutions.
How would you describe the growth of the Zero Waste movement in your country?
At the beginning, the zero waste movement was mainly carried out by expats living in the country trying to introduce standards from more developed parts of the world to Montenegro. So when ZWMNE was founded in 2015 a lot of work was needed to introduce zero waste, circular economy, DRS, SUP, oxo-degradation, composting etc. to the public in Montenegro. We’ve come a long way and now have a solid ground to work on but awareness raising activities are still complementary to each of our projects. Today the zero waste movement in the country is carried by conscious Montenegrin citizens and a recently submitted petition for a plastic bag ban proves that. In September this year more than 5.000 people signed the petition and submitted it to the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism of Montenegro. Two years ago, the same petition was initiated by our organisation and gathered little more than 3.500 signatures. There has definitely been a growing interest in “green topics” in Montenegro in recent years. More young people are getting educated on the matter of plastic pollution and sustainable living. We are just hoping that Montenegrin authorities recognise the urgent need to work on these issues even before it’s put on their political agenda on a higher European or international level.
Sometimes it’s the small actions we take every day that can lead to big results. If 7 billion people took one action everyday we will be looking at a much more sustainable future for all of us!
You can find more about Zero Waste Montenegro, and their work here.