Croatia encourages the recycling of plastic and metal packaging as well as the return of specific types of plastic bottles in return for a refund. The plastics and metal collected are exported to other countries that can process and produce new products. The benefits of recycling plastic and metal include:
- Keeping unnecessary waste out of landfills
- Protecting animals from being harmed by sharp metals
- Reducing dependence on crude oil
- Saving energy
- Saving natural resources
- Reducing both and air pollution
The company that manages the pick up of recycling in Croatia is called Čistoća. The biggest roadblock to recycling in Croatia is a lack of education of what can be recycled and into which bins the waste should be placed. All too often waste is put in the wrong bin or is covered in food or oil, which upends the whole system and makes recycling that much harder. Make sure all plastics and metal are clean before putting them in the recycling bin.
In this guide, we are going to cover how to recycle plastics and metals properly including:
- Where to put plastics and metals
- Which kinds of plastic and metal can be recycled
- Which types of plastic offer rebates
- Which kinds of plastic and metal cannot be recycled and what do with it
First, it’s important to know that the Croatian words for plastic and metal. In Croatian, “plastika” means “plastic”, and “metal” means “metal, so it should be very easy to distinguish from the other bins. It will also be helpful to know that “ambalaža” means “packaging”. Sometimes you may see “plastična ambalaža“, which means “plastic packaging”.
When you roll up on the line of recycling and trash bins, you need to look for the one that says “PLASTIKA” or “PLASTIČNA AMBALAŽA”on it. This plastic and metal “plastika” bin will be either entirely yellow or have a yellow lid or some kind of yellow accent.
Yellow = Plastic & Metal = Plastika/Plastična Ambalaža
Here are a few different variations of the yellow plastika bins where you can recycle plastic and metal.
Only certain kinds of plastic and metal can be recycled. Here is a list of all the plastic and metal that can be recycled using the yellow bins:
- Plastična ambalaža (plastic packaging)
- Plastične boce (plastic bottles) – Marked with symbols PE-HD, PE-LD, PP
- Cleaning product bottles
- Cosmetic bottles
- Distilled water bottles
- Edible oil bottles
- Food and drink bottles
- Medication bottles (except for cytotoxic drugs)
- Shampoo and hair care bottles
- Yogurt bottles
- Plastične tube (plastic tubes)
- Plastične vrećice (plastic bags) – Marked with symbols PE-HD, PE-LD, PET, PP
- Plastična folija (plastic foil) – Marked with symbols PE-HD, PE-LD, PET, PP
- Plastične čaše (plastic cups) – Marked with symbols PS, PP
- Yogurt cups
- Cheese cups
- Mjehurasta ambalaža (bubble wrap) – Marked with symbols PE-HD, PE-LD, PET, PP
- Polistirenska pjena (styrofoam food packaging) – Marked with symbol EPS
- Other plastic products – Marked with symbols PE-HD, PP, PVC, PS, PET
- Bottle caps
- Plastic plates
- Plastic utensils
- Metalni poklopci (metal covers)
- Metalni čepovi (metal caps)
- Limenke i konzerve (food and drink cans)
- Aluminijska folija (aluminum foil)
- Tetrapak (carton wrap for milk etc.) – Some neighborhoods have their own bin for Tetrapaks
There are some additional plastic items that can be recycled but are too big for the bins. Do NOT put these items in the bin, instead take them to a recycling yard:
- Plastične stolice (plastic chairs)
- Plastični stolovi (plastic tables)
- Plastične ležaljke (plastic deckchairs)
Before you take your recycling to the bin, it is important to know that some types can be turned in for a rebate. The rebate is usually 0,50 kn per bottle. The types of plastic and metal that can be turned in for a rebate are:
- Water bottles
- Soda bottles
- Soda cans
Check the label to see if it a rebate is offered before taking your bottles to the recycling bin. If a rebate is offered, then it will say “Povratna Naknada” along with amount of the refund. You can turn in your bottles at most (but not all) grocery stores in exchange for a refund.
If you don’t want to bother taking your bottles in for a refund, but still want SOMEONE to get the refund, set your bottles next to the plastika recycling bin instead. It is guaranteed that someone in your neighborhood will come and collect them to get the refund. It’s a good way to pay it forward.
UPDATE: From 2021, 2-deciliter plastic and metal bottles can also be turned in for a rebate in amount of 0,50 kuna per bottle. Bottles must be marked with the “Povratna naknada” label. Until now, this was possible for bottles larger than half a liter (0,5-liter, 1-liter, 1,5-liter, 2-liter bottles, and others larger than half a liter). 2-deciliter bottles can be returned to shops only manually by contacting the staff and can not be returned via vending machines.
Not all plastic and metal can be recycled. The following products should NOT be put into the recycling bins:
- Plastic packaging and cans for paint, varnish and engine oil
- Plastic packaging and cans for chemicals
- Bottles and cans of flammable and explosive liquids
- Pressurized bottles and cans (for example, bottles with propane or butane)
These items are considered hazardous waste. They need to be delivered to one of the following locations:
- Špansko recycling center, D. Cesarića 2a, Zagreb (phone: +385 (0)91 2678 118)
- Klara recycling center, Sisačka cesta 10, Zagreb (phone: +385 (0)99 263 3091)
- Your closest recycling center (called “reciklažna dvorišta”). You can download a complete list here.
Check out our other guides on recycling on Croatia here.
Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. We can recommend one if you contact us.