02/04/11 Ban on Plastic Bags in the Republic of Croatia
Ministry of Environmental Protection, Physical Planning and Construction (MEPPPC)
Ulica Republike Austrije 20
February 4, 2011
Subject: Ban on plastic bags in the Republic of Croatia
The representatives of Animal Friends on September 24, 2009 presented the director of the Department for Atmosphere and Waste Management (DAWM) with a petition to ban plastic bags, endorsed by over 27,000 signatures. Since we haven't received any information from you regarding our petition to ban plastic bags, we kindly request an urgent reply.
Seeing that the Republic of Croatia is involved in the negotiations to join the European Union (EU), would you please let us know at your earliest convenience what has been done regarding the ban on plastic bags in the Republic of Croatia. Apart from the EU directives you have frequently referred to, may we remind you that every animal and every human being is entitled to the uncontaminated environment.
As we are well aware of the EU directives, regulations and legislation related to the protection of the nature and the environment, the EU members and their ministries have been dealing with this issue quickly and efficiently. For instance, the Italian Minister of the environment Stefanie Prestigiacomo passed the law banning the use of plastic bags, which came into force on January 1, 2011. We trust you are informed of the fact that the distribution of the plastic bags has been banned by San Francisco, Los Angeles and Mexico City, while many countries around the world, including Israel, Canada, South Africa, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, as well as some Indian, Chinese, Belgian, Swiss, German and Dutch cities have banned them completely or introduced taxes that have led to a drastic reduction in their use. The UK and Australia are considering similar bans.
The EU requires that the waste disposal law include specific rules and regulations determining kinds of waste and locations designed for their disposal. Since such directives and laws must be observed in order for the Republic of Croatia to close certain chapters in the accession negotiations, the question arises as to what is being done in this regard.
It is discouraging that as of today not a single site for dangerous (toxic) waste has been built on Croatia, while only 10% of the total toxic waste is being correctly and regularly disposed of. Plastic bags are not classified as toxic waste according to its chemical composition (polyethilen), but they are nevertheless considered the chief cause of pollution due to their prolonged and slow degradation at numerous waste disposal sites, by keeping the toxic waste, increasing its distrubution, polluting underground waters, killing animal species, and so on.
Since the consumption and the production of plastic bags has increased over the past years, as a result of free handing out of plastic bags in shopping malls, we consider that it is high time we followed the positive examples of countries which have banned them. Ministry of Environmental Protection, Physical Planning and Construction is in the position to present the bill to ban plastic bags in the country and see that the bill becomes the law. Seeing that there are no obstacles for such a law to exist in this country, we do not understand the motives why it has not already been passed by the Croatian Parliament.
Animal Friends have been calling for years for the relevant institutions to ban plastic bags, and our calls have grown into a massive, vocal campaign. We wish to see you as our allies in the campaign and to name you in the media as an example for other ministries and organizations, which are still hesitating regarding the environmental protection.
The Republic of Croatia has been promoting itself in the world as a unique place where the natural heritage and the rich biodiversity are being preserved. How does such a low level of ecological consciousness fit into this image? Although the primary concern of Animal Friends is to help the animals that die in a prolonged agony as a consequence of plastic bags, we are completely confident that the aforementioned legal ban would resound in Europe and have a positive effect on the Croatian economy, specially in the sector of tourism.
In hope of the best possible cooperation with your Ministry, we are looking forward to your urgent reply.