Friday, 22 April 2022

Earth Day 2022 - Environmental Protection Fund's Public Calls Worth 96 Million

April 22, 2022 - Marks the 50th Earth Day. Our beautiful planet is facing many problems, the biggest, of course, being climate change whose effects we can all see and feel happening. The race is on, the world's leaders are discussing change, some things are moving along, but is it enough? Earthday.org calls to action saying that "we need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably)". Google celebrates bees.

In Croatia, as Index writes, The Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund announces three public calls totaling 96 million kuna to co-finance environmental projects related to climate change, biodiversity protection and waste management.

The first call is worth HRK 20 million and is intended for facilities owned by the Republic of Croatia, units of regional and local self-government or public institutions that finance projects aimed at reducing the consumption of ozone-depleting substances and fluorinated greenhouse gases.

These are projects aimed at replacing existing cooling systems with those that use new technologies and do not damage the ozone layer, and at the same time are more energy efficient. For an individual project, it is possible to receive up to 1.2 million kuna, or up to 100 percent of eligible costs. The goal is to facilitate the transition to technologies with a lower impact on climate change, both in terms of global warming potential and energy efficiency.

The second call is intended exclusively for public institutions for the management of national parks and nature parks and other protected parts of nature. 10 million kuna will be co-financed for projects that contribute to the control of the population of several invasive alien species.

Namely, the EU and the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development have identified priority invasive alien species and areas where they need to be urgently removed or controlled in order to prevent their further spread and negative impact on indigenous species and habitats.

These include the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes javanicus auropunctatus), pond slider turtles (Trachemys scripta), spinycheek crayfish (Orconectes limosus), signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus), the Ludwigia alpseima and Ailanthus altissima, also known as tree of heaven.

The third call is to encourage measures for the separate collection of municipal waste by local self-government units and companies and legal or natural persons - trade owners. 66 million kuna has been provided for the improvement of local waste management systems, and the purchase of communal equipment and devices will be co-financed, as well as various citizen education projects. After all, motivated and informed citizens are a key element of any successful system.

"Activities co-financed through the calls are a step towards green transition and only one part of the Fund's planned programs for 2022. By the end of the year, 14 more calls in the field of environmental protection and energy efficiency are expected to be published," the Fund announced.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Monday, 21 March 2022

Mayor Says Zagreb City Administration Wants to Increase Number of Trees by 20%

21 March 2022 - On the occasion of International Forest Day, Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević on Monday took part in a reforestation drive in the city's Maksimir Park, saying that the city administration wanted to increase the number of trees in the city's parks by 20%.

"This year we have stepped our efforts compared to last year and I believe that we will achieve that goal by the end of our term," the mayor said at the event, held to plant saplings on the first day of the spring.

The drive was organised by the public institution "Maksimir" in cooperation with the Faculty of Forestry.

Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac and Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić also attended the event.

Saturday, 5 February 2022

Environmental Awareness Event Held in Split

ZAGREB, 5 Feb 2022 - An event organised by the Economy and Sustainable Development Ministry to advocate a change of habits and encourage the reduction of humans' harmful impact on climate, nature and the environment, took place in Split's Prokurative Square on Saturday.

Local artisans - shoemakers, tailors, watchmakers, opticians, repairers of household appliances, locksmiths, knife grinders and others made minor repairs free of charge to objects brought by citizens.

The event, attended by Minister Tomislav Ćorić and Mayor Ivica Puljak, is part of the ministry's campaign #ZaZeleniSvakiDan, which has been going on since 2021 and which aims to show citizens that changing one's daily habits and reusing objects helps to preserve nature and have more available resources for future generations.

Ćorić and his associates also visited the city's open-air farmers' market, where they distributed to citizens bags made of recycled plastic and cloth bags.

The minister underlined that there was a growing awareness among citizens of the need to sort and recycle waste and avoid behaviour that causes environmental pollution.

Mayor Puljak said that the city administration would help local artisans with subsidies.

The head of the city association of artisans, Vilim Bujević, said that there were 4,500 craftspeople in Split, expressing hope the city authorities would support them.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Remediation of Sovjak Pit in Viškovo to Begin by End of Year

ZAGREB, 2 Feb 2022 - The remediation of the Sovjak pit near Rijeka, worth about HRK 390 million, is planned to start by the end of the year. It is estimated there is currently about 152,000 cubic meters of waste in the pit, making this one of the largest and most complex environmental protection projects in the country.

The Sovjak pit is a natural karst sinkhole that has been used since 1949 for the uncontrolled and improper disposal of hazardous waste.

It is estimated that about 250,000 cubic meters of various waste were disposed of in the pit by the 1990s. Examples include acid sludge, a waste material generated as a by-product during the production of lubricants, motor oils and asphalt, waste asphalt from coke ovens, waste oils and fuel oils from shipyards, residues from storage tanks for oil, petroleum products and others.

At a press conference on Wednesday, the director of the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund, Siniša Kukić, underscored the complexity of the project preparation process, during which three remediation models had been proposed. The final model was selected through consultation with the citizens of Viškovo.

"The project is large and complex not only due to high costs, but also due to works taking place in the immediate vicinity of houses", he said.

Kukić also added that the contractors were required to meet the highest standards of environmental protection, adding that the safety of the residents was their priority.

Permanently remove threat to environment and residents

Sanja Udović, the head of the municipality of Viškovo, expressed satisfaction that after many years, the remediation of the pit would start.

"The project will not be easy nor simple, but it will permanently remove the threat to the environment and the consequences the residents have been feeling for decades," she said.

The State Secretary at the Ministry of the Economy and Sustainable Development, Mile Horvat, said this was a key moment for the residents of Viškovo because new green space was being created.

Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Prefect Zlatko Komadina said that the problem of the Sovjak pit was a result of decades-long irresponsible behaviour.

"The price of remediation is high, but nothing is more expensive than the health of residents", he said.

The remediation project was presented by Maja Feketić, the head of the Sector for EU Funds at the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund, saying that the contractors selected in the public call were joint bidders GK Group from Varaždin, Slovenian EKOMO, and IVICOM Consulting from Zagreb.

Deadline 54 months

The deadline for the completion of works is 54 months. 85% of the investment has been secured from EU funds, while the rest will be covered by the Fund.

The remediation is expected to begin by the end of 2022.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Sunday, 2 January 2022

Croatian Plastic Bag Ban Now in Force, Some Shops Will Still Use Them

January the 2nd, 2022 - The Croatian plastic bag ban is now finally in force as the country aims to keep up with the rest of the European Union and its long-stated desire to slowly but surely eliminate the use of harmful plastic to try to better protect the environment.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as of January the 1st, 2022, the placing of lightweight plastic carrier bags on the Croatian market has been banned, and the Ministry of the Economy and Sustainable Development has kindly asked people to instead go shopping with a canvas bag or a basket, both of which are very cheap, very useful, and much better for the planet.

This is a ban enforced under the Waste Management Act, and refers to the category of plastic carrying bags with a wall thickness of up to 50 micrometres. Most of what is now in place is linked in a previous article (above), but it's worth going over the finer details once again to make sure people are prepared with canvas and other material bags when going shopping as of now.

The use of very lightweight plastic carrying bags that are thinner than 15 micrometres which is used solely for hygienic reasons or to serve as the primary packaging for bulk food when it helps prevent food waste are still allowed to be used, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development explained.

Lightweight plastic carrier bags, which have already been placed on the market and are in stock by shops and retailers, will be able to be used after the 1st of January 2022 until stocks last to as not to create additional burdensome costs to these facilities, but only with valid records that the bags were placed on the market before that date.

The aforementioned Ministry also stated that this is the category of plastic bags that are typically seen and used on the market, and which due to the poor level of thickness of the bag's walls can't be used repeatedly. This is why such carrier bags significantly pollute the environment and cause tremendous issues for the planet, which the EU is a bloc is stepping up to try to resolve once and for all.

Plastic carrier bags which are thicker than 50 micrometres and that can be reused can still be used and sold, as reusable bags contribute well to waste prevention.

According to the Ministry of the Economy and Sustainable Development, very light plastic carrier bags will be placed on the market in markets, bakeries, fish markets, confectioneries, grocery stores, butchers and other places where food is sold, exclusively for placing items in in bulk or for industrially unpackaged food, or food that has previously only been wrapped in temporary packaging, such as foil.

Very light plastic bags will not be able to be used in non-food outlets, such as clothing and department stores, shoe shops, home appliance stores, pharmacies, bookstores and the like.

"Unfortunately, discarded plastic bags have become a very common sight in nature and, based on European Union directives, other forms of plastic carrier bags will be abolished in the future. Until then, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development would like to invite everyone to go shopping from the New Year with their own canvas bags or other material items in which to carry their purchases, such as baskets, and to opt for paper bags and similar alternatives when making purchases,'' the Ministry concluded.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

15-50 Micron Thick Plastic Bags Banned in Croatia as of January 1st

ZAGREB, 1 January 2021 - Single-use plastic carrier bags that are between 15 and 50 microns thick are no longer in use in Croatia as of Saturday, 1 January.

The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development has called on Croatians to carry cloth and paper bags when going shopping.

The exception to the ban that goes into force as of the first day of 2022, is very light plastic bags with particle sizes under 15 microns. They are used for bulk food.

The use of all other plastic bags will be phased out.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Croatia's Environmental Affairs in 2021: New Nature Park, Progress in Waste Sorting

ZAGREB, Jan 2021 - Croatia's environmental affairs in 2021 were marked by the declaration of Dinara as the 12th nature park and the awarding of the status of UNESCO designated site to the Mura-Drava-Danube Biosphere Reserve.

On 5 February, the Croatian parliament unanimously adopted a law declaring Mount Dinara the 12th nature park in Croatia. The nature park encompasses Croatia's section of Mount Dinara as well as Mt Troglav and Mt Kamešnica, the upper course of the Cetina River and the Hrvatačko, Paško, and Vrličko karst fields. It extends over two counties - Split-Dalmatia and Šibenik-Knin -- measuring almost 63,000 hectares in area. Dinara is part of the Dinaric Alps, also commonly known as the Dinarides, a mountain range in Southern and Southeastern Europe.

On 15 September, UNESCO's international coordinating council designated the transboundary biosphere reserve which stretches along the Drava, Mura, and Danube Rivers as the first biosphere reserve extending through five countries: Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia. The Mura, Drava, and Danube Rivers form a 700-kilometer-long green belt, also known as the Amazon of Europe, connecting almost a million hectares of unique terrain with significant natural and cultural heritage, becoming the first five-country biosphere reserve in the world.

Legislative activities in environment protection

In July, the Croatian parliament passed a law banning the use of plastic carrier bags that are between 15 and 50 microns thick as of 1 January 2022, while other types of plastic bags will be phased out in the coming period.

A project aimed at better management of plastic waste has begun, and the first comprehensive national statistical survey on food waste was conducted.

The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development said that a strong positive trend of waste separation, collection, and recycling continued.

The waste sorting rate in 2020 was 41%, rising by 15 percentage points since 2016. Of the total municipal waste, 56% was landfilled and 34% recovered, which is an increase of 13 percentage points compared with 2016.

Prelog among best towns in Europe in sustainable waste management, Šibenik builds Bikarac waste management plant

In mid-December, the Zero Waste Europe network published new best sustainable waste management practices in Europe, including those in the northern Croatian town of Prelog and 11 neighboring municipalities.

Prelog, the first Croatian town to adopt a zero-waste strategy, and 11 neighboring municipalities (Belica, Donja Dubrava, Donji Vidovec, Sveta Marija, Goričan, Donji Kraljevec, Kotoriba, Dekanovec, Domašinec, Martijanec, Podturen), improved their result in total waste sorting from 57.25% in 2019 to 65.23% in 2020.

On 21 December, the City of Šibenik's waste management center began a test run of the HRK 245 million Bikarac waste management plant, with Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić praising Šibenik for setting an example to other cities on how to resolve the issue of waste management. Currently, about 73,000 tonnes of waste is delivered to Bikarac with more than 40,000 tonnes of municipal waste. The capacity of the mechanical-biological plant is to process about 70,000 tonnes of waste a year.

In June, Parliament adopted the national low carbon development strategy until 2030 with an outlook until 2050.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković: "Protecting the Environment Contributes to Prosperity"

ZAGREB, 7 Sept, 2021 - Protecting the environment contributes to prosperity, particularly in tourist countries like Croatia, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said in Vienna on Tuesday.

"The pandemic has taught us the importance of multilateralism. We have to step up our global efforts in the fight against climate change and stimulate green transition and economic growth," Jandroković said at the Fifth World Conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union's Speakers of Parliament.

"Protecting the environment contributes to prosperity, particularly in countries whose economy depends on tourism, like Croatia," he said.

Jandroković believes that "cooperation, changing the approach, and finding a balance between economic growth and the quality of life, are key to creating a sustainable future."

Croatia's National Development Strategy for the period until 2030 emphasises just that - a sustainable economy, green and digital transition and the well-being of citizens, he said.

"This isn't just about economic growth, but, more importantly, about prosperity, well-being, balance between private and business life, and the quality of life. It also has to do with access to health and welfare services, education, etc," he added.

Speaking about the COVID-19 pandemic, Jandroković said that "it will have a lasting impact on the world as we know it, causing changes to our way of living, education, communication, etc.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union is an international organisation bringing together 179 national parliaments.

During the conference, Jandroković is expected to meet with Austria's Parliament Speaker Wolfgang Sobotka on Tuesday, while on Wednesday he will meet with representatives of the Croat community in Austria.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Adriatic Heavy Metals: New Research Dives Deep into the Matter

September 1, 2021 - New research led by the scientists from Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) concerns Adriatic heavy metals. The current concentrations are small but worth monitoring. Learn more here.

With scientists from the prestigious Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) already publishing their results from measuring the salinity of the Adriatic, the new endeavors show that salt isn't the only thing worth exploring in Croatia's geographical and tourist ace.

IRB scientists Abra Penezić, Andrea Milinković, Saranda Bakija Alempijević, and Sanja Frka, alongside their colleague Silva Žužul from the Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health in Zagreb, authored a scientific article ''Atmospheric deposition of biologically relevant trace metals in the eastern Adriatic coastal area'' and published it in the renowned multidisciplinary journal - Chemosphere.

The research was focused on sedimentation traces of atmospheric metals on the surface of the Adriatic sea. The metals that were traced in this research were zinc, copper, lead, cobalt, nickel, and cadmium. With all of them being heavy metals (not in a fun, artistic way like Metallica or Iron Maiden) that pose a serious threat to human health, keeping a close eye on their levels in the Adriatic is a more than important task.

''Atmospheric transmission isn't just significant, it's often the dominant way in which natural and anthropogenic (man-made) transfers occur from land to the marine area. Once injected through processes of dry or wet sedimentation, atmospheric flying particles or aerosols become the outside source of nutritious but also toxic matter for marine ecosystems. Atmospheric sedimentation can be of significant value for waters that are poor in terms of nutritious salts, such as the area of central Adriatic,'' informed IRB in its press release.

They added that the coastal area of the Adriatic sea is under the constant influence of man-made aerosols of the urban and industrial areas of continental Europe. In addition, spring and summer see the influx of Sahara dust, and with the coastal area being a high-risk area of open fires, aerosol contribution increases. However, IRB states that the effect of fire aerosols on surface maritime systems still isn't being properly researched to this day.

''In this research, we looked at the variability of the concentration of biologically significant metals in traces and their sedimentation on the surface waters of the central Adriatic. At the Martinka sea station, we did a six-month-long sampling of PM10 particles, total sedimentation matter, seawater from a depth of one metre and the surface microlayer as the border between the sea and the atmosphere,'' explained the leading author, Dr. Abra Penezić.

PM10 is a problematic particle as it remains for a very long time in the atmosphere due to its small size and ability to remain there, warns the Belgian Interregional Environment Agency.

Abra_Penezic.jpg

Dr. Abra Penezić © Ruđer Bošković Institute

The research showed that in colder periods of the year, the increase of metal traces of zinc, cadmium, and lead in the Adriatic is owed to the heating systems and transportation from continental Europe.

In the summer, increased traffic emissions allow nickel, cobalt, and copper to be on the rise. The rain increases wet sedimentation and, along with open forest fires and Sahara dust, they become factors of increasing metal particles. The IRB press release states that while the concentration of this article is small, it is important to constantly monitor these levels.

''The results of this research will contribute to the further knowledge on processes on this specific area and the dynamics of the atmosphere and the sea,'' they explained from IRB.

This research is also part of the BiREADI research project. It began back in 2018 and will last until 2022 with a million kuna budget, the project aims to explore the complex dynamic and mutual influence of the atmosphere and the sea, an important and profound question to answer in respect both to the climate challenges we experience now and those that are yet to come.

Learn more about beaches in Croatia on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Slavonski Brod Ranks Third Worst City in Europe on Air Quality Index

ZAGREB, 17 June 2021 - The eastern Croatian city of Slavonski Brod is the third worst city for the quality of air according to the European Environment Agency (EEA) data which indicates that more than half of European cities still have polluted air despite reduced emissions during the pandemic lockdown.

The worst situation is in eastern Europe where coal continues to be the main source of energy.

The most polluted air was registered in Nowy Sacz in Poland where the biannual average of fine particulate matter on an area of fewer than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5), which are considered to be damaging to health, amounted to 27.3 micrograms per cubic meter.

Cremone in Italy ranked second with 25.9 micrograms PM2.5 per cubic meter and Slavonski Brod ranked third with 25.7 micrograms PM2.5 per cubic meter.

Three cities with the cleanest air in Europe were Umea in Sweden (3.7), Tampere in Finland (3.8), and Funchal in Portugal (4.,2).

Poor air in Zagreb too

This year's PM2.5 average in Zagreb amounted to 15.8 micrograms per cubic meter which means the air is of poor quality and presents a moderate health risk. In Rijeka, it was 10.6, which is moderate pollution, according to EEA.

EEA analyzed data for 323 European cities in 2019 and 2020 and determined that only 127 had a PM2.5 level below the limits recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Exposure to fine particulate matter cause more than 400,000 premature deaths per annum in Europe.

The EEA data indicates that the biannual average is only available for those cities that are regularly monitored and do not include all European cities.

EEA notes that the lockdown due to the pandemic resulted in a decrease in the level of nitrogen dioxide released from diesel motors but the level of particulate matter remained high.

The level of nitrogen dioxide fell by 60% in some cities due to the lockdown in April 2020 while the reduction in the particulate matter was less dramatic - with the level of coarse particulate matter (PM10) falling between 20% and 30% in April 2020.

Even though the quality of air improved significantly last year, air pollution remains to be stubbornly high in many cities in Europe, EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx said.

For the latest news about Zagreb, click here.

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