Thursday, 3 October 2019

Greenies Call for Withdrawal of Amendments to Waste Collection Regulation

ZAGREB, October 3, 2019 - Green Action activists on Thursday protested outside the Ministry of Environment and Energy, calling for amendments to the Municipal Waste Collection Regulation to be withdrawn and for Environment Minister Tomislav Ćorić to be replaced.

The amendments will result in a significant financial blow to citizens, particularly households of one or two members and small companies, they said.

The protesters underscored that they were against the ministry's unacceptable plan to force cities and municipalities to make all households pay the same, fixed part of the monthly waste collection bill regardless of whether they consist of one, two or ten members. According to utility companies, the plan would mean a significant increase in waste bills for small households and small companies.

Marko Košak of the Green Action explained that the ministry wants to make all households pay the same, fixed part of the waste bill whereas currently that part of the bill is paid based on the number of household members.

This is yet another in a series of Minister Ćorić's decisions which deal a financial blow to those who produce the least waste, and it is contrary to a fair waste management policy, Košak said.

Siniša Radiković, the director of the Pre-Kom waste management utility company from Prelog in Međimurje County, which has the highest level of waste separation and has already met the objectives set for Croatia for 2025, said that his company's excellent results were a sufficient argument for the ministry to correct the injustice that would harm the most vulnerable, one- or two-member households, and small companies.

More news about environmental protection can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Minister: Radioactive Waste Storage Facility in Čerkezovac at Highest Environment Standards

ZAGREB, October 1, 2019 - Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said on Tuesday Croatia was continuing activities concerning the construction of a radioactive waste storage facility in Čerkezovac in Dvor municipality in accordance with the highest environmental standards because no consensus was reached with Slovenia on building a joint facility for waste from the Krško nuclear power plant.

"We will talk with the people in Čerkezovac... Croatian inhabitants live there and they share the fate of all Croatian inhabitants, so it's quite certain the storage facility will be there, but at the highest environmental standards," Ćorić told reporters in Karlovac, adding that "there's no reason for fear as such storage facilities exist across Europe."

He dismissed Bosnian fears that a storage facility in Čerkezovac, which is near the border, would pose a threat to development, business and life in Bosnia and Herzegovina. "Nothing, including the life of any person, on either side of the Una river, in Croatia or BiH, will be in danger."

Ćorić said that every interested party could take part in a public consultation once the technical and ecological aspects of the project were ready.

He dismissed "the blanket political manifestos from BiH and the local government in Dvor," urging them not to "disseminate fear among people and score cheap political points."

Asked if Croatia had an alternative location for storing radioactive waste if the Čerkezovac environmental impact study was rejected, Ćorić said "there's no plan B" and that Croatia would be forced to accept Slovenia's offer to build a joint storage facility, which it rejected on Monday.

The minister said that aside from the waste from the Krško plant, which is located in Slovenia and co-owned by Slovenia and Croatia, Croatia must also store radioactive waste produced on its territory, "instead of it being stored at dozens of locations in Europe as is now the case."

More news about environmental protection can be found in the Lifestyle news.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

No Consensus Yet on Storage of Krško Nuclear Waste

ZAGREB, October 1, 2019 - The Slovenian-Croatian commission on the Krško nuclear power plant failed at a meeting in Bled on Monday to reach a consensus on building a joint radioactive waste storage facility in Vrbina near Krško, Slovenia, and Croatia continues activities aimed at building its own facility.

The meeting discussed the successful operation of the co-owned power plant and possibilities for storing medium- and low-level radioactive waste from Krško, but a consensus on a joint storage facility in Vrbina has not been reached for now, Croatian Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić and Slovenian Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek said at a joint press conference.

The meeting was presented with the third review of the Programme for degradation and the Programme for disposal of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel. The documents will be forwarded to the Slovenian government and the Croatian parliament for consideration, after which they should be confirmed by the joint commission at a meeting planned for December or January.

Slovenia plans to build a radioactive waste storage facility in Vrbina near Krško and proposes that Croatia stores its share of waste from the Krško plant there. "Currently there is no consensus on a joint solution, but we remain open to talks with Croatia in accordance with the agreement between the two countries," Bratušek said.

Ćorić said that the Slovenian proposal was problematic to Croatia for several reasons, one being that in Vrbina it would be possible to store only radioactive waste from the Krško plant.

This is not a long-term solution for Croatia because it has institutional waste at a number of locations. If Croatia agrees to a joint storage facility in Vrbina, it will have to build a facility to store medical and other radioactive waste in its own territory, which would not make sense, Ćorić said. "We want a final solution to cover all types of waste," the Croatian minister said.

Ćorić said that Croatia was ready for an alternative scenario, citing the Čerkezovac site on Mount Trgovska Gora at Dvor, near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, but added that it should be seen how talks with Slovenia would proceed. "Regardless of that, our preparations for Čerkezovac continue," he added.

Responding to questions from the press, Ćorić said that Croatia was aware of protests from Bosnia and Herzegovina and its Una-Sana Canton, and stressed that the matter would be discussed with Bosnia and Herzegovina during the preparation of an environmental impact study.

Asked why other types of Croatian medium- and low-level radioactive waste could not be stored in the planned facility in Vrbina, which might be acceptable to Croatia as a long-term solution, Bratušek said that under the existing agreement only radioactive waste from the nuclear power plant itself could be stored within its grounds. She added that the matter should be resolved by 2025, after which it would not be allowed for Croatian nuclear waste to be stored within the power plant complex.

During the meeting, a small group of Bosnian environmental activists protested outside the Bled hotel saying that the Čerkezovac site was unacceptable because of the soil composition and because of local population on both sides of the border.

More news about Krško nuclear plant can be found in the Business section.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Stop Throwing Waste into Our Oceans, President Says in Her UN Speech

ZAGREB, September 25, 2019 - In her address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović highlighted global problems such as the pollution of oceans and seas, including the Adriatic Sea, which she described as a crucial asset and one of the greatest treasures for Croatia which earns 20% of its GDP off tourism.

The Croatian coast, which is annually visited by some 18 million tourists, is polluted by, among other things, plastic waste from Croatia's southern neighbours.

"Croatian coastal areas, one of the world’s cleanest and most wondrous, are at times severely affected by poorly managed waste from our southern, neighbouring countries," the president said in her 20-minute address which focused on the environment, in particular on the oceans and seas.

"From this spot I encourage all – please stop throwing waste into our oceans and seas. Our own future is at stake," Grabar-Kitarović said.

"We cannot neglect further the severe implications on our nature and the significant economic losses that we are facing in the future," she added.

The Croatian president underscored that marine litter was "a problem of increasing concern" that threatens the marine life in the oceans as well as in the Adriatic Sea.

The main topics on the agenda of the ongoing General Assembly are climate change, poverty eradication and good education.

Concerning the environmental topics, Grabar-Kitarović cited two positive examples of Croatians' engagement in the preservation and facilitation of marine and coastal environmental recovery. In that regard, she praised the activities of the Split-based Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries.

"The renowned Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries in Split has been monitoring the Adriatic Sea since 1930 and its scientific activity encompasses very complex research in the fields of biological, chemical and physical oceanography, sedimentology, fisheries biology and aquaculture;" she said.

"Over a hundred scientists and experts are diligently working on the preservation of the sea as one of our greatest assets. One of their many projects involves the cooperation with fishermen: plastics and litter from the seafloor found in their fishing nets is collected and disposed of. A number of fishing ships are involved in the project and have so far collected over 50 tons of waste," the Croatian president said.

The president also praised young environmental enthusiasts on the island of Zlarin who gathered the entire local community to start an action called "Take a break from plastic" last year.

"The goal was to make Zlarin the first Adriatic island free of single-use plastic and plastic waste within a year. Their action was local, but their efforts are indeed global," she said, commending the people of Zlarin and supporters for having the vision and courage to transform their island community.

"Within just one year, the island has transformed. By signing a symbolic declaration, all residents, caterers and merchants have disposed of disposable plastics from everyday use. Today, children on Zlarin educate hundreds of visiting tourists that plastic is not welcome on their island. These are the children from Zlarin and they really deserve recognition.

"In this chamber here, we are running out of excuses for not following the example of the people of Zlarin and not doing the same globally. Let us make all of our communities just as responsible as the people of Zlarin. Let us not hesitate and be discouraged by past or present failures but rather provide strong leadership for our common success in the future," Grabar-Kitarović said in her speech.

More news about Croatia and the United Nations can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Croatia to Ban Disposable Plastic Products in 2020?

Plastic cutlery, plates, straws, beverage mixing sticks, balloon holders, food containers, and styrofoam cups are just some of the products that Croatia will ban in 2020.

With the new Sustainable Waste Management Act by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, which should be adopted in the second quarter of 2020, it will be impossible to place some disposable plastic products on the market, 24 Sata reports. 

The list includes cotton swabs, cutlery, plates, straws, beverage stirrers, balloon holders, food containers, styrofoam cups, and oxo-degradable plastic products that later decompose into invisible microplastics. The product list may also be expanded, depending on the results of the consumption reduction measures for items like plastic bags.

Specifically, on January 1, 2019, the implementation of measures to reduce the consumption of lightweight and very lightweight plastic bags began, and manufacturers and sellers are required to submit information to the Environmental and Energy Efficiency Fund about the quantity of bags placed on the market. In May 2020, we will also have results from the implementation of these measures, which also includes the mandatory payment for plastic bags and educating citizens. The EU's deadline for banning these products is July 3, 2021.

Vecernji List wrote back in 2017 that the estimated annual consumption of carrying bags in the Republic of Croatia is around 8000 tons. According to the European Commission recommendation that the EU Member States use bags that weigh an average 8.5 grams, it follows that the annual consumption of bags in Croatia is about 954,000,000 bags, or 212 bags per capita per year.

According to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, which opposes such a ban, 8200 workers in 700 companies worked in the plastics and rubber industry last year. Production increased by 50% from 1990 to last year. Two years ago, we exported plastic worth $437 million. Furthermore, the Croatian Chamber of Economy published data that the analysis of the European association PlasticsEurope showed that if the plastic packaging for food was eliminated, the weight of the packaging would quadruple, the energy consumption would increase by 50 percent, there would be 60 percent more waste and twice the greenhouse gas emissions.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

"Fridays For Future Croatia" Initiative Calls for Urgent Transition to Green Energy

ZAGREB, September 21, 2019 - The Croatian youth initiative "Fridays For Future Croatia" has joined a global climate protest calling for government action to tackle climate change.

About 1,000 protesters gathered in central Zagreb on Friday evening urging the government to confront climate destabilisation and adopt an action plan for a transition to green energy. They called for an immediate end to all fossil projects currently under preparation, including the LNG terminal, thermal power plants using fossil fuels and the Adriatic-Ionian gas pipeline, and for investment in green energy sources.

Chanting "Time is now" and "Eco, not ego", activists also called for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, forming a multidisciplinary commission on environmental sustainability and banning the use of single-use plastics.

Protesters said that the global climate crisis posed a major threat and called on the government to start acting now because resources such as clean water, air and food were becoming scarcer as the number of people on Earth was growing.

The youth initiative was supported by many non-governmental organisations, including Greenpeace, Green Action and Friends of Animals, trade unions and public figures.

Similar protests were also held in Osijek, Rijeka and Split and were part of a global strike planned for September 20-27 in over 100 countries.

More news about environmental protection can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Croatia Slowly Making Progress in Decarbonising Transport

ZAGREB, September 20, 2019 - Croatia is slowly making progress in decarbonising transport thanks to the absorption of EU funding, but is not satisfied with the pace of progress, Transport Minister Oleg Butković said in Brussels on Friday.

"Croatia is now much better than it was in absorbing EU funding, financing cleaner municipal transport, purchasing new buses, new ships, building new ports. We are not satisfied with the dynamics, which should be better, but we are slowly moving up from the bottom," Butković told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of EU transport ministers.

One of the main topics discussed was the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in transport, as part of the EU's commitments under the Paris climate agreement.

Speaking of the decarbonisation of transport, Butković said that further investment in innovation was necessary, especially in rail transport and the construction of rail infrastructure. "This is very important to us, because we have already built road infrastructure," he said.

The minister announced that the upgrade and completion of the Trans-European Transport Network and maritime affairs would be among the topics of the Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2020 and that an informal ministerial meeting would be organised in that regard.

He noted that Croatia is a maritime country with 15,000 seafarers and that issues such as protection of the marine environment against pollution and further digitisation of the maritime sector are important to it.

"This is very important to us because we finance large railway projects from the CEF (Connecting Europe Facility) and it is important that we are allocated more funds in the next multi-annual financial framework so that we can finance such projects," Butković said.

Butković said that the government was in touch with the European Commission over the recapitalisation of the national flag carrier Croatia Airlines, stressing that the company was important for the national economy, especially tourism.

"We will explain our decision on recapitalisation to the European Commission and I believe there will be no problems," he said.

The decision to recapitalise Croatia Airlines needs to be approved by the Commission, which will see whether it constitutes unlawful state aid.

More news about environmental protection can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Area Along Una River Protected by law, Bosnia Puts Pressure on Croatia

ZAGREB, September 12, 2019 - The government of the Republika Srpska entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Thursday adopted a decision proclaiming territory along the Una river as a nature park and the entity's minister of Physical Planning and Environment, Srebrenka Golić, explained that this was a measure to prevent Croatia from building a nuclear waste depot on Trgovska Gora in Dvor municipality, which is in the near vicinity of the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The entity's Una Nature Park runs adjacent to the Una National Park in the Federation entity and now the river's basin on Bosnia and Herzegovina's side is a single protected area.

"We want to send a clear message to Croatian authorities that they cannot do that (construct a nuclear waste storage plant) to a neighbouring country because in that area is both a nature and a national park. We are doing that so (Croatia) starts looking for another site that is not populated and does not jeopardise a living environment, and not on the border of a neighbouring country," Golić told reporters in Banja Luka.

Member of Parliament Saša Magazinović (Green Party) told the Fena news agency that this is necessary to put extra pressure ahead of a meeting between Croatian and Slovenian officials at the end of September to discuss the disposal of nuclear waste from the Krško nuclear power plant.

What I am afraid of, and this is mentioned in passing in some official Croatian documents, is that Trgovska Gora will not only be used to dispose of waste from Krsko but that it could turn into a depot for European nuclear waste. Some Croatian documents even note that that would be a cost-efficient project, Magazinović said.

More news about relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Ecological Agricultural Production Rising in Croatia

ZAGREB, September 9, 2019 - Croatia is near the top of EU rankings in ecological agricultural production growth but still lags behind in ecological food consumption, which is three times higher in the EU, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) said on Monday.

Because of the fast-growing market, ecological production is increasingly attractive to domestic farmers, as farmland with such production has grown ten times in the past ten years, said Žaklina Jurišić, an assistant director at the HGK.

In 2017, Croatia had 7,577 hectares of land under ecological production, or 0.63% of all farmland, and 103,166 hectares last year (about 7%), she said.

Last year, the number of ecological agricultural producers rose by almost 9% from 2017, from 4,023 to 4,374.

Fresh vegetable and strawberry growing jumped by 51% from 2017 (+724 tons), grape production by 40% (+1,616 tons) and olive production by 33.6% (+328 tons).

Ecological animal breeding is also on the rise in Croatia, with that of cattle in 2018 jumping by 14% from 2017, from 17,226 head to 19,613, that of sheep by 14.2% (from 54,583 to 62,315), that of goats by 24.2% (from 3,381 to 4,199) and that of pigs by 28.5% (from 1,468 to 1,887).

On the other hand, ecological egg production dropped 12%.

The potential of ecological production is reflected in the European market for such products, which is estimated at 30 billion euro, or 60 euro per capita. In Croatia, the market is worth 100 million euro, or 23.6 euro per capita.

The share of ecological farm products in retail is 2.5% in Croatia and 5% in the EU.

More agriculture news can be found in the Business section.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Activists Urge Minister to Close Down Marišćina Waste Management Centre

ZAGREB, August 8, 2019 - Activists who demand the closing down of Marišćina, the main waste management centre in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, on Wednesday again urged Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić to close the centre because the situation in it had not improved and local residents still endured an intense stench.

The activists issued a statement saying that Ćorić had promised back in March that the centre would be closed if the pollution and stench it was causing were not removed by the end of May.

"Even though measuring parameters show that all relevant indicators are within tolerable ranges, an unbearable stench has been spreading in the area of Marcelj and nearby settlements for days," the activists said, noting that the head of the company operating the waste management centre, located in Viškovo municipality, northwest of Rijeka, had apologised for the stench to local residents several times.

"Marišćina is evidently not functioning properly, it is a common landfill that only causes problems and where waste is ground in the most primitive way," the activists said, noting that problems would continue until the separation of biowaste started and that local government units should be forced to start separating it.

More news about waste management can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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