07/15/21 Croatia bans plastic bags!
Animal Friends Croatia, after 13 years of campaigning, welcomes the new legal provision
- For the effective cessation of plastic pollution, it is necessary to get rid of even the thinnest plastic bags
At today's session, the Croatian Parliament passed a new Law on Waste Management, which, among other things, prohibits the usage of plastic bags. Animal Friends Croatia launched a campaign and petition to ban plastic bags in 2008 and now welcomes this specific legal provision: “The ban on lightweight plastic bags is the result of many years of effort by associations and environmental organizations that point to the catastrophic consequences of using plastic bags. We also advocated banning the thinnest disposable plastic bags, which was not accepted, although there is a supply of reusable practical nets in stores. These thinnest bags are used relentlessly and it should be solved with a payment obligation and clear regulation, which can be prescribed by bylaw's acts.”
The Association explains that at the moment customers are using the thinnest free disposable plastic bags without thinking when, for example, buying only one piece of fruit or vegetable, although they can stick the price in the store to an individual product or buy them in larger quantities and in bulk; they can also use nets in order to avoid the usage of plastic bags. The pile of such bags ends up in mixed waste and in nature, which is why they state that only legal prohibitions and restrictions can effectively stop further environmental plastic pollution.
Animal Friends Croatia considers this legal provision a victory and thanks everyone who has fought alongside them in these 13 years and joined the appeal to ban plastic bags. In the beginning, when they decorated a large seedling with plastic bags on Ban Jelačić Square, which is now a larger tree on Bundek, or when they disguised themselves in costumes made of bags and pointed out the necessity of a specific legal ban, they did not think that so many years would pass, but this result suggests the necessity of continuing a series of new and concrete positive changes.
"Each one of us should be aware that by irresponsible behavior we are endangering our own health and the world in which we live. Discarded plastic bags decompose, so microplastics end up in human and animal organisms. Countless times we have witnessed scenes of animals accidentally swallowing plastic bags or getting entangled in them and then dying slowly and in agony. If we want to preserve our sea, beaches, parks and natural beauty and stop piling up garbage, we have canvas bags, baskets and reusable mesh bags for fruits and vegetables at our disposal,” explain Animal Friends Croatia.
They add that, in addition to plastic bags suffocating animals and damaging beaches and forests, their production consumes natural resources and energy, exposing production workers to toxic chemicals. Buying or taking a new plastic bag every time you go to the store directly affects the environment not only because of hundreds of years of decomposition in a landfill but also because burning in an incinerator with other plastics increases the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.
The new Law on Waste Management prohibits the placing on the market of lightweight plastic carrying bags and disposable plastic products such as Q-tips, cutlery, plates, straws, beverage mixing sticks and those intended for holding balloons, as well as containers for food and beverages made of expanded polystyrene including their stoppers and lids and products made of oxo-degradable plastic.
"Unfortunately, disposable plastic is banned only minimally in accordance with the EU directive. In order to be effective as a state in preventing the use of disposable plastic, it is necessary to change consciousness and practice the use of reusable items. We hope that this is just one in a series of provisions that will follow, which will stop plastic pollution and increase waste sorting because Croatia has big problems that need to be solved as soon as possible. Saving animals and the environment, preserving natural resources and ecosystems should be our long-term interest," conclude Animal Friends Croatia.