12/05/13 Ban on Plastic Bags in Republic of Croatia

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Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection
Ulica Republike Austrije 14
10000 Zagreb

December 5, 2013

Subject: Ban on plastic bags in Republic of Croatia

Dear Sirs,

We would like to remind you that Animal Friends' representatives handed over the petition to ban plastic bags, with over 27,000 collected signatures. We would also like to remind you of a letter sent on February 4, 2011 regarding the same subject, to which we still haven't received a reply. Up until today, we have yet to receive any information regarding the submitted documents and ban on plastic bags in the Republic of Croatia, we would like to again demand a speedy response i.e. definitive steps leading to a decision that will reduce the consumption of plastic bags.

We are writing to you encouraged by the provision made by European Commission on November 4, 2013 which demands, from its member states, a reduction in the consumption of plastic bags. For this reason it is necessary to bring in measures for reducing the consumption of plastic bags - primarily single-use, thin and free plastic bags. We believe that it is unnecessary to stress that they are not free plastic bags because their end price is paid by our already overloaded environment.

Main arguments in opposition to this initiative lie in the fact that plastic bag recycling isn't economical and it is hard to undertake. Only about 1% of all bags end up being recycled. However, even the significant increase in the recycling of plastic bags does not solve the problem of their excessive production which uses up huge resources and chemicals. Amongst the suggested measures, member states can choose those that they consider most appropriate, including taxes, with the national goal of reducing or banning plastic bags in certain situations.

We suggested a tax on bags, i.e. levy in order to ensure that not one plastic bag is free but it should be charged at for example 2 kuna per piece. Thereby the consumption of plastic bags would significantly reduce and citizens would be encouraged to start using ecologically acceptable bags and carrier bags, and to buy plastic bags only when this is really necessary. This provision would encourage the stores and chain stores to offer customers more lasting and ecologically aware solutions with reasonable prices. Funds collected this way could be redirected to the fund for preserving the environment, which would contribute to further progress.

Many countries and cities in the world successfully tackle the plastic bags problem: San Francisco, Los Angeles and Mexico City banned plastic bags distribution. Italy, Israel, Canada, South Africa, Ireland, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and certain cities in India, China, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Holland banned them completely or introduced a tax that contributed to a drastic reduction in their use.

The fact that production and consumption of plastic bags in Croatia are still growing is not questionable, which is a direct result of giving out free plastic bags by chain stores. We believe that it is high time for Croatia to address this problem, even more because as a member of EU, it has a duty to do this.

The Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection has the opportunity to make a suggested provision regarding a ban of plastic bags. Such a provision would directly contribute to the reduction in plastic bag consumption, and would give a clear educational message stating that bags are not free and it is better to use multi-use bags, baskets, handbags and the like. These newly acquired and ecologically aware behaviour patterns could be applied by citizen to their other living habits as well.

Animal Friends has been appealing to relevant institutions for years to ban plastic bags, and the appeal has grown into a large, loud and clear campaign. We want you in our campaign as our ally and we want to be able to publicly quote your resourceful Ministry in the media as a positive example to other Ministries and organizations that are still stalling when it comes to protecting the environment.

The Republic of Croatia is promoting itself in the world as a unique place with a preserved natural heritage and rich biological diversity. However, a question arises regarding how the ugly sight of plastic bags, which can ruin our coast and the trees they hang from, fit into the idea of a preserved Croatian environment? It is not just about the lack of aesthetics, but also about the very obvious lack of ecological awareness. Not only does it leave a bad impression on tourists, but also on the natural habitats that are being irretrievably destroyed along with the lives of sea and land animals. Considering the fact that programs aimed at reducing thin plastic bag consumption are already being undertaken in certain EU countries, it is to be expected that our tourists will see this lack of provision here and find the heedless hand out of free plastic bags as a sign of our lack of care for the environment.

Even though the first concern of Animal Friends is to help animals who are dying a slow death whilst suffering a great deal due to plastic bags, we can state with certainty that such a law would be heard in Europe and it would have a positive influence on our economy, especially in the tourism sector.

Due to the reasons above we are asking to be given a slot to meet with Minister Zmajlovic, and we hope that the new EU provision will encourage dialogue and a specific move in order to reduce the consumption of plastic bags.

We are looking forward to your reply with the goal of good collaboration.

Kind regards,

Luka Oman
President of Animal Friends



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