04/23/19 Let's Ban Lightweight Plastic Bags!
On the occasion of the Earth Day, Animal Friends write to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy
- No plastic bag should be free; some should be immediately banned, and in the end all of them should.
For more than a decade, Animal Friends Croatia has been calling for a ban on the sale of disposable plastic bags. On the occasion of the Earth Day, Animal Friends sent a letter to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy asking them to ban lightweight plastic bags less than 50 microns thick in Croatia, and to start charging for the bags with less than 15 microns with a minimum price of at least 2 kunas per bag. Canvas bags, baskets and reusable mesh bags for fruits and vegetables can be used as an alternative to lightweight plastic bags. There are reusable alternatives even for the thinnest plastic bags, which should also be banned in the end. That is why Animal Friends invite citizens to generally reduce the purchase of products packaged in plastic and to buy products in bulk and in larger quantities, thus directly reducing the amount of packaging material used.
The legal obligation to charge for lightweight plastic carrying bags less than 50 microns thick is in effect in Croatia since the beginning of 2019. Very light bags, in which buyers pack fruits and vegetables, the ones less than 15 microns thick, are free, but merchants are obliged to highlight the sign: „Use plastic bags sparingly“. Nonetheless, consumers continue to use these bags, even taking them unnecessarily when they buy only one piece of fruit or vegetable, although they can paste the barcode price tag to a single product.
As practice shows, symbolic charging for plastic bags and free distribution of the thinnest will not significantly reduce the use of plastic bags in Croatia. Buying or taking a new plastic bag for every trip to the store directly affects the environment because these bags will most likely end up in the landfill where they will degrade for years or in a waste incinerator where they will be burned with other plastics and increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Plastic recycling rates are the lowest, and additional energy and resources are needed for it. Therefore, we should strive to completely prohibit their use.
Animal Friends warn us that huge amounts of plastic bags and other plastic objects end up in the worlds seas, oceans and the terrestrial environment, where they pose a life threat to the number of animals that can be trapped in them or swallow them. Biodegradable alternatives aren't much better either because their disintegration creates micro-plastic that ends up in the environment and water, and then in human and animal organisms.
Croatia, as a tourist country, has special interests in protecting its environment from plastic bags. Animal Friends therefore emphasize, through modifications and strict control of applications of the Ordinance on Packaging and Waste Packaging, the necessity of banning disposable lightweight plastic bags and charging for the thinnest ones that serve as primary packaging, and in the end, banning those as well.
They note that, to mark the Earth day, in addition to avoiding plastic bags, we can help the only home we have by using reusable objects, sorting waste, saving water, and mostly by changing nutritional habits, since vegan nutrition largely affects the reduction of climate change, soil, water and air pollution, and world hunger.