Rat-infested garbage and heavily polluted water on the outskirts of Belgrade.
Serbia plans to join the EU by 2025.
But the country's environmental procedures and greenhouse gas emissions currently do not meet the requirements.
Reaching an acceptable standard is likely to cost the country around 15 billion euros - or $17 billion.
(SOUNDBITE) (Serbian) CEO OF BOZIC I SINOVI (BOZIC AND SONS) WASTE PROCESSING PLANT, NIKOLA EGIC, SAYING: "There are huge problems in the recycling industry and in waste management in general.
We started late, and for a long time we had no proper regulation, no proper legal framework.
But the single, greatest problem is money." Executives at waste processing plants also say companies that break the rules are not penalised.
But, the Serbian environment minister said the problem could offer significant economic opportunity, in terms of investment in waste and waste water processing.
For now, the country has accepted that it will not meet EU demands by the target date, and has instead proposed an 11-year transition period from the date it's accepted into the bloc.
Neighbouring Croatia, which joined in 2013, has already asked to extend its deadline to 2025.