Sunday, 20 November 2022

End of an Era: Shops to be Required to Charge for Light Plastic Bags

November 20, 2022 - End of an era in Croatia. No more free tiny little plastic bags. According to the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, shops will be required to display the prices of the plastic bags used for fruit and vegetables.

As Poslovni writes, with the new ordinance on packaging, which should enter into force next year, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development will introduce a return fee for packaging with a volume of less than 0.20 liters for tetrapak and which is not made of PET. At the same time, retailers will have to start charging for very light plastic bags.

The Ordinance envisages the expansion of the existing refund system with less than 0.20 liters of packaging with multi-layer (composite) packaging with a predominantly paper-cardboard component, for example, tetrapak. With plastic packaging that is not made of PET, for example, HDPE (polyethylene of high density, rigid plastic), the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development told Hina.

All products defined as "beverage" to enter the refund system

Regarding products in HDPE plastic packaging, the Ministry said that all products that fall under the definition of "beverage" are included in the refund system.

This concerns alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, table, natural mineral water, and spring water, fruit syrups, fruit juices and nectars, milk and liquid dairy products, and other liquid products based on fruit, as well as any other substance that is packaged together with the liquid base and forms a complete unit of primary packaging.

This means that oils, detergents, and other products that are not "beverages" do not enter the refund system.

Glass bottles for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks with a volume of 0.1 liters are included in the refund system, as well as plastic packaging with a volume of three litres or less.

The Regulation on waste management compensation and return compensation will prescribe the method of calculation and the compensation amounts. A new look for the packaging label in the return fee system is also proposed.

Very light plastic bags must be charged to consumers

The ordinance also proposes that all very lightweight plastic bags, thinner than 15 microns, used for fruit and vegetables and other bulk food, and are not currently charged in the future must be charged to consumers and that they may not be displayed and sold at cash registers.

Also, in the places where the consumer packages the goods, their price, which the seller will determine, must be displayed, according to the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development.

The aim of introducing a fee for lightweight plastic bags is to separate their uncontrolled free distribution and excessive collection, which often leads to the disposal of such bags in the environment.

In addition, the goal is to improve the use of thicker plastic bags, those with a wall thickness of 50 microns or more, because they end up being discarded much less often due to their greater mass and convenience for multiple uses. The ministry wants to encourage the use of bags made of alternative materials.

The Ministry says that the new rulebook is being adopted due to Croatia's obligations to transpose the provisions of the EU directives on packaging and packaging waste into the national legislation and on reducing the impact of plastic products on the environment.

The existing waste packaging management system should be harmonized with the Waste Management Act from July 2021.

Consultation on the rulebook until December 10

The rulebook was published on the Central Portal for public consultation, and the consultation is open until December 10. After that, the Ministry announced they would proceed with its final drafting.

The start of the application will be determined in the final version of the rulebook so that a period for adjustment will be set, and the Ministry will inform the public about the current application dates.

The Ordinance proposes measures to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic products, as well as measures related to the extended responsibility of producers of single-use plastic products and fishing gear containing plastic.

Measures are also proposed to raise awareness about the harmfulness of discarding plastic products and the availability of reusable alternatives.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated News section.

Sunday, 12 June 2022

Zlarin Island Has Least Plastic, Most Waste Separation on Krk Island

June the 12th, 2022 - Zlarin island has the least plastic waste among the country's many inhabited islands, while the island of Krk does the best job when it comes to waste separation.

As Morski writes, the Sunce Association organised another study trip as part of the project entitled "For Plastic-Free Croatian Islands". This time, the employees of the Sunce Association, along with their project partners, visited the island with the least plastic, Zlarin island, and the island with the highest percentage of waste separation in all of Croatia, Krk.

The first day of the trip was a visit to Zlarin island, which launched the initiative to reduce plastic waste on that particular island four years ago.

''Through the initiative For Zlarin island without plastic, significant progress has been made in reducing pollution as a result of disposable plastic. The project was initially supported by the Tourist Board and the local mayor, and then slowly began to involve local traders, fishermen and other locals,'' said Katarina Gregov, a representative of the Zlarin Tourist Board.

The mere fact that there are no cars on Zlarin island is a sufficient motivator for the local community to continue striving to develop the concept of sustainable tourism by which visitors have the opportunity to experience the island as it always has been throughout time.

''Our goal is to make people aware of being more responsible consumers and not replacing one type of waste with another. In the beginning, of course, it wasn't easy, it's difficult to change people's already well established habits and patterns of behaviour. However, when you provide them with some education, and at the same time an acceptable and affordable alternative to disposable plastic, most of them eventually agree to it,'' said Katarina.

Krk - the island with the highest percentage of separated waste in all of Croatia

The second and third day of the trip saw the aforementioned Association head to the beautiful island of Krk, the most populated and economically developed island in the country, and also one of the Croatian leaders in the share of separation of useful raw materials from waste.

For many years, Krk has been implementing a system of a circular economy, which doesn't discard raw materials, but instead uses them for re-production. This reduces the consumption of limited natural resources (oil, wood, iron) and, consequently, waste.

Waste is collected door to door, and Krk's residents have bins in front of their houses in order to separate plastic, glass, paper, biowaste and mixed municipal waste themselves. However, the door-to-door waste collection system wasn't introduced in the old town due to the mayor's decision not to have bins located there, nor air conditioning, clotheslines, etc. That means that waste from the old town is collected outside the of the walls in special locations.

A large amount of separately-collected recyclable waste comes mixed, so this waste is first taken to a sorting plant where it's further sorted, baled and handed over for further recovery. Additional waste sorting is important when it comes to separating waste that doesn't belong there. In addition, waste sorting plants are important for the future self-financing of utility companies because they further reduce the cost of waste collection.

Krk is also proud of its modernly equipped composting plant, in which about six million kuna was invested two years ago for the modernisation of the plant. The space of the once open composting plant, after the investment, was covered and closed, and a device for machining the imported biowaste was installed in it. Produced compost is 1st class compost used for agricultural purposes, and users of Ponikve Krk's services receive one bag of that compost as a gift, while larger quantities are sold at a very affordable price and brought to the doorstep. Ponikve Krk also plans to produce third class compost from sludge from wastewater in the amount of 676 tonnes of compost per year.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Ex IT Wizz Zeljko Brigljevic Creates Furnace That Breaks Down Plastic

January the 19th, 2022 - Former IT king Zeljko Brigljevic has created something quite impressive indeed - a furnace that breaks down environmentally harmful plastic and warms up the room.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, the Zagreb-based company Makro Gradnja, with Zeljko Brigljevic at the helm, has been carefully developing this innovation that is now available on the market for a decade now - Macro Converter, a specially designed biomass stove that, simply put, heats the space while removing plastic and creates fuel, which makes this Croatian product unique.

According to Zeljko Brigljevic, it could cheaply heat family hotels, mountain lodges, family farms, nursing/care homes, churches, health centres, and at the same time work to clean up the environment and create energy suitable for purchase.

"We've combined biomass heating, which is very popular in more developed countries, with the simultaneous decomposition of plastics, ie ''pyrolytic depolymerisation'', which produces energy. Simply put - we designed a biomass or wood chip stove, which is practically everything that burns - from abandoned Christmas trees, furniture scraps, seagrass, agricultural scraps - and added the possibility of plastic pyrolysis. Such a furnace provides the most favourable heating because fuel is found everywhere, and at the same time it removes plastic from the environment and produces pyrolytic oil from it. The pyrolysis process can also convert rubber.

Excellent fuel can be obtained from old trainers. The oil can be delivered for further processing to industries, such as a small refinery, and such fuels on the free market reach purchase prices of up to ten kuna per litre, which also gives the user the opportunity to earn some money,'' explained Zeljko Brigljevic, who was the head of MakroMikro for 25 years, engaged in the sale of IT products.

He sold the company to Stublic Impex in Sesvete near Zagreb seven years ago, but while he was its director, the idea of ​​the Macro Converter was born. He said he noticed a growing pile of unusable plastic, toner cartridge cases, ink cartridges - that needed to be disposed of responsibly, and that the disposing of this form of waste cost almost more than buying a brand new product. That's how he came up with the idea of ​​a furnace that wouldn't only solve the problem of properly dealing with plastic waste, but go a step further at a time when renewable energy is an imperative in the world, and he realised everything through the company Makro Gradnja.

''The key advantages are the most favourable type of heating, the removal of plastic from the environment and all this with the possibility of making a profit by producing energy from waste. In short, in winter, everyone has to warm up at home. With the explosion of energy prices, biofuel heating is the safest, leads to long-term self-sustainability and independence, and reduces the risks of rapid increases in energy prices, such as gas. It also provides the opportunity to make money by selling pyrolytic oil. Most importantly, it is useful for the planet in order to reduce the amount of plastic lying around harming the environment,'' explained Zeljko Brigljevic.

The price of one furnace would range between 25 and 35,000 euros, depending on the level of the equipment required, and buyers can expect a return on investment between two and four years, depending on how often pyrolysis is used for heating. The product is suitable for all who have 12 m2 to accommodate the containers with the ovens and storage for the wood chips. It is ideal for farms, households with more buildings or larger houses, greenhouses, small and medium enterprises that have halls, warehouses, institutions, smaller hotels, or in short - all buildings up to 1000 m2.

Zeljko Brigljevic is being assisted in his venture by his son Boris, who, while developing the Macro Converter, graduated from the Faculty of Chemical Engineering and Technology and also ''cooked'' the first batch of pyrolytic oil back in 2011 from old toner cartridges. He accepted, as Zeljko Brigljevic himself says, his father's "totally crazy idea", which then matured after the World Expo held in Las Vegas. Along with his son Boris, Brigljevic is especially grateful to the machinist, turner, welder and constructor Vlado and electronics and power engineer Perica.

There is interest in stoves, but they have reduced it to individuals who want energy-efficient solutions and who follow global trends in the need to care for nature.

"They've usually got significantly more good wishes than money, but that's also the case here in Croatia. As for our clients, I see people who are aware of the need for self-sustainability and want smarter solutions in the context of waste management. Our plan is to sign a long-term contract with our customers and buy pyrolytic oil and coal,'' he explained.

They are currently in the phase of presenting the Macro Converter to the domestic market, and by testing the echo corrections, they are preparing for serious clients.

"We can only hope that someone will recognise its potential for the environment, the economy and the population. But our focus will be on markets where there is significant interest in similar products, ie in more developed countries. The plan is to make series of products with the existing company,'' Zeljko noted.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

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, 8 August 2020

New Tax on Non-Recyclable Plastic Coming to Croatia Next Year

As Vecernji list writes on the 7th of August, 2020, the tax on non-recyclable plastic packaging is one of the new taxes on its way to Croatia as of 2021 that will finance the repayment of a part of the 750 billion euro loan that will finance measures to revive the economies of European Union countries affected by the coronavirus crisis.

The new tax on non-recyclable plastic will be introduced on the 1st of January 2021, it will be imposed by all European Union member states and will repay the joint debt. The tax rate is 800 euros per tonne of non-recyclable plastic packaging. Thankfully, these taxes, at least not directly, will not be borne by citizens. The revenue will go directly to the EU treasury, and not to the budgets of the member states that collect it, Glas Slavonije writes.

The European Union has been stepping up its fight against plastic waste for several years. Two years ago, in January 2018, the Strategy for Plastic Waste Management was presented, with the aim of recycling all plastic packaging by the year 2030 (in a cost-effective manner) and limiting the use of disposable plastic. And then came the idea of ​​introducing the possibility of a plastic tax becoming a new source of revenue for the European Union's budget.

Under the current proposal, member states would pay 0.80 euros per kilogram of non-recyclable plastic waste. But the details needed for the implementation of this haven't yet been worked out. What will the criteria for determining the (non) recyclability of plastic packaging actually be? Will common rules of the game be established or will each EU member state set its own rules for how to collect taxes? 

We're rational to fear a scenario in which each country sets its own national criteria for the types and quantities of non-recyclable plastic packaging, and this could have a negative effect on the common EU market and complicate business for the bloc's economy. The proposal, analysts note, has caused nervousness in some poorer EU countries, especially those that don't have a developed recycling system like richer member states do. Therefore, they would have to make higher contributions in the name of this brand new tax. Therefore, the reassuring messages of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and Charles Michel, President of the European Council, are that a "mechanism to avoid excessive regressive impact on national contributions" will be created for such cases.

For now, there seem to be louder critics around the topic. On the one hand, there are those who have expressed concern about the reduction in tax revenues - because the more plastic is recycled, the taxes on plastic waste will disappear over time. On the other side is the European plastics industry, whose actors warn that the tax could have the totally opposite effect. They believe that plastic tax revenues are not intended to be invested in waste and recycling infrastructure, so this will not increase plastic waste recycling within the bloc.

For more, follow our lifestyle page.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Vrgorac Mayor Prohibits Use of Disposable Plastic Packaging

The use of disposable or so-called single use plastic has become a common topic of conversation and is a frequent theme of all those engaged in attempting to preserve their local environment. Plastic pollution has also captured an enormous amount of attention, especially when it comes to human damage to the marine world. Vrgorac, a town in Split-Dalmatia County, has stepped up.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 20th of January, 2020, on Monday, Vrgorac Mayor Ante Pranic gave the directors of the town's numerous institutions instructions on the decision to prohibit the use of plastic packaging in the town's official institutions as well as at during Vrgorac's various events held throughout the course of the year, stating that they should be replaced by glass and also by much more environmentally friendly, biodegradable paper packaging.

In addition to the aforementioned, praiseworthy move, Vrgorac's mayor is also putting a stop to the consumption of bottled water at work meetings held within Vrgorac's local government and at during Town Council meetings. These bottles are all to easy to purchase, drink from and throw away without a second thought about how the wasted plastic builds up and negatively affects our local environment and our entire planet as a whole.

In the future, drinking water should be served in glass jars from Vrgorac's water supply network, removing the need for harmful plastic bottles which don't break down.

All establishments in Vrgorac will, owing to this decision, receive special waste disposal containers by Friday this week in order to facilitate the proper separation of all of the collected paper, to make sure things are recycled and disposed of in a safe and correct manner, with the least damage being inflicted on the local environment.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more. For more information on both official and unofficial ways Croatia works to protect its environment, give Total Eco Croatia a follow.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Croatia's McDonald's Introducing New Products to Reduce Plastic

Croatia's branch of the large American fast food chain has decided on a step that all of their customers and employees, not to mention the environment, should feel. As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes on the 5th of November, 2019, today, McDonald's announced its plan to reduce plastic use and phase out its use entirely by 2025 at the Zagreb Avenue Mall location.

"We have to talk about this problem because it's important for the entire planet, and then for us. We've been struggling with this for some time, it isn't easy, because we're the largest restaurant chain in the world, we want to be among the first to go in this direction of reducing plastic use. What we do has a big impact: There are more than 10,000 people visiting us every day in restaurants across Croatia that we want to show you can do a lot without so much plastic.

Our first step is to be taken next year, and we're already introducing items that will replace plastic ones up to now, such as paper straws, paper balloon holders and paper cups for some of our products like McFlurry ice cream. By 2025, we want to have all of our products be recycled ones or from sustainable sources, which don't have a negative impact on the environment,'' explained McDonald's Croatia director Pavel Pavliček.

Robert Švigir, Head of Purchasing and Quality Control, noted that paper fibers are used in almost 80 percent of packaging. At the beginning of 2020, all paper packaging used by McDonald's in Croatia will come from certified, recycled or sustainable sources.

''Plastic straws are quite a big problem and they're one of the reasons for switching to the paper version. Unfortunately, the food business requires a certain amount of plastic packaging to ensure the safety and quality of food and, on the other hand, to reduce its waste. That is why we've focused on trying to reduce the use of those with reduced recycling capacity or to remove them completely, as is the case with plastic straws, and to increase the share of recycled materials. This is the so-called RPET plastic, which can be completely recycled and new products can then be made from it,'' explained Švigir.

With such an approach, McDonald's could, as they point out, meet the EU's set goals for a circular economy and waste prevention. Such activities, they say, will continue so that they are primarily engaged in the sustainable use of plastics in business.

As a chain with 30 restaurants across the Republic of Croatia,  it is not easy to implement the aforementioned changes, especially with regard to the procurement of all of the adequate materials. The new packaging is therefore being tested at the Avenue Mall restaurant and will gradually be introduced to others across the country.

"The procurement process is still ongoing and we're still looking for the best alternative materials that could replace plastics without affecting the customer experience and disrupting our standard of service. The procurement process took several months in Croatia, we tested many different materials in order to find the correct types. All the manufacturers are from the EU, it is important that the straws are sustainable and don't have a negative impact on the environment.

"You can imagine, every time a customer orders a menu or a drink they get a straw, that's a lot of plastic. By the end of 2021 and early 2022, we intend to remove plastic straws, and by 2025, all the other plastic packaging, disposable glasses... It's a demanding project that is also affecting change within the supply chain and we're monitoring the impact not only on the chain but also on the environment,'' Pavliček said.

McDonald's Croatia have pointed out that these changes, which all require a considerable investment, will not affect the price of their products for the end consumer.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more. Follow Total Eco Croatia if you're interested in both the official and unofficial ways Croatia tries to protect its environment.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Zlarin Becomes ''Pilot Island'' Without Disposable Plastic

Zlarin aims to put the environment first!

Monday, 17 September 2018

100 Meters Of Filth: A Small-Scale Look At Plastics In The Adriatic

September 17, 2018 — It was supposed to be a relatively harmless study. Select a 100-meter stretch of shoreline, clean it up and document the various items found.

The early results suggest a problem far grander than plastic bottle caps and grocery bags.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Cres Holding Campaign Against Plastic This Weekend

Hardcore eco-warrior or just concerned about the rising problem of plastic pollution in the sea? Either way, the beautiful island of Cres is the place to be this weekend.

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