12/03/16 Getting Closer to Plastic Bags Ban

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Animal Friends supported the ban on handing out free plastic bags at a public consultation

- Mandatory fee on plastic bags in stores finally in the draft of the Waste Management Implementation Plan!

Animal Friends took part in the public consultation on the draft of the Croatian Waste Management Plan for the period 2016-2022 concluded on December 2, 2016.

Animal Friends endorsed the measure of the Ministry of Environment and Energy which proposes the introduction of a fee on lightweight plastic bags in stores, which states: It is necessary to introduce a mandatory fee for lightweight plastic bags and seller’s obligation to inform consumers at the spot about the negative impact of excessive consumption of plastic bags on the environment, including places where consumers take plastic bags themselves (bags in rolls for fruits and vegetables, etc.). This measure is an important step in preserving the environment and the welfare of people and animals because it was brought into light to prevent the occurrence of unnecessary waste.

The average Croatian citizen annually consumes about 150-170 bags, which at the national level is as high as 700 million bags. Due to high costs and lack of necessary infrastructure, only 1-6 % are recycled. Most of them are disposed in landfills, where, with the absence of light, they cannot even biodegrade.

The biggest problem is the large number of bags that, due to their light weight and human negligence, end up in nature. Plastic bags threaten the lives of the animals; creatures can swallow them or get trapped inside them, they ruin the environment and create economic damage. It takes a few centuries for a plastic bag to decompose, while it releases dangerous plastic dust which gets deposited in the world's oceans and into the food chain.

Croatia - as a tourist destination - has a special interest in protecting its national parks, sea, lakes, rivers and forests from the plastic bags, and for this we need concrete and rigorous measures against their use.

Animal Friends supported the introduction of a fee for plastic bags because, in addition to promoting classification, recycling and reusing waste, it helps achieve a sustainable society. This is the most important measure to ensure that there isn't waste at all. With the free and uncontrolled giveaway of plastic bags in stores, consumers are losing awareness of the actual price of plastic bags, which ultimately costs the environment. With the introduction of a fee, consumption of plastic bags would greatly decrease because of the additional financial outlay, and the use of durable bags and baskets that can be used repeatedly would be encouraged.

Animal Friends also suggested that the money collected from the fees gets used specifically for funding the projects to protect the environment and promote sustainability.

Reducing the use of plastic bags, from Croatia, requires the provisions of the European Union as well, and the introduction of a fee on plastic bags has prompted the inhabitants of other countries to greatly reduce dependence on plastic bags. That's right, since the introduction of fees for plastic bags in 2002 in Ireland, their annual consumption per capita went down from 328 to 21 apiece. We should aim to model Denmark and Finland, whose residents use only four bags per year.

Animal Friends launched a campaign on plastic bag ban and on distributing free plastic bags in 2009 with petition to ban plastic bags. The petition was signed by more than 27,000 citizens, which indicates high environmental awareness of Croatian citizens on the issue of plastic bags.

Animal Friends welcomes the introduction of the compulsory fee on plastic bags and other reduction, separation and recycling proposed by the new Waste Management Plan as a positive step towards achieving sustainability. However, the organization is calling for the Ministry of Environment and Energy, when accepting the Waste Management Plan funds for inefficient and non-organic county centers waste management, to focus on the functioning of the local system of classification, recycling and reuse of the waste.

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