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Coalition of 54 organisations tells Croatian Ministry: No to mixing and burning waste!

The 'Zero Waste Croatia' coalition, made up of 54 environmental NGOs lead by Zelena akcija / Friends of the Earth Croatia has today submitted joint comments on the draft national Waste Management Plan 2015-2021. The groups are calling on the Ministry of Environmental Protection to give up the concept of mixing and incinerating waste and instead to base the plan on reducing, re-using and recycling waste. Such measures, based on the zero waste concept, would be in line with the waste hierarchy, protect the environment, and avoid harming people's health.
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Activists from Zelena akcija / Friends of the Earth Croatia organised a protest action in which a figure resembling the Minister for Environmental and Nature Protection, Mihael Zmajlović, fed recyclable materials along with bank notes into a barrel emitting thick smoke. The action, accompanied by a No waste incineration! banner, symbolised the Minister's responsibility for the negative financial and environmental impacts that would be caused by the Plan if approved.

The Croatian waste management system has for years been among the worst in the EU. Only 15% waste is separated even though under EU rules it is obligatory to recycle 50% by 2020. In spite of this, the new plan fails to ensure quality infrastructure for waste separation and recycling. Instead it is planned to continue production of large quantities of mixed waste that would be transported to regional mechanical-biological treatment (MBT) centres, mostly for shredding, with only a small percentage recycled, and further transported for incineration in cement kilns and a planned incinerator. Such a system will fail to achieve EU targets and clearly shows that the Ministry, rather than taking the public interest and environmental protection into account, is willing to lead Croatia into a situation where it will have to pay high penalties for non-compliance with EU law and where people will have to live next to facilities that harm the environment and their health.

The draft plan is based on incomplete data on waste quantities and fails to justify the choice of waste management system. A regional system of waste management centres and incineration has been chosen without feasibility, environmental or health impact analyses, even though in practice incineration has been proven to the most expensive and harmful system of waste treatment. The costs of implementing the plan have been put at EUR 2.8 billion, of which around EUR 1.4 billion has still not been secured, and unexpected costs may also arise eg. If waste has to be exported due to failure to construct the expected facilities in Croatia. This scenario is not unrealistic if we consider that in many countries, cement kilns are less and less interested in burning waste due to high costs, and burning waste at the CEMEX kiln in Split – one of three in Croatia that was expected to burn waste from the regional centres - has been forbidden by the Split Administrative Court due to lack of functional emissions measurement equipment.

As well as direct financial damage, incinerating waste destroys valuable raw materials which can bring additional income and create additional workplaces – an aspect which is completely overlooked in the draft plan. The Plan emphasises that energy can be recovered from incineration but neglects to mention that much more energy could be saved by recycling or that energy can also be gained from other non-harmful waste treatment such as biogas plants running on organic waste. The claim that incineration solves the waste problem is also misleading considering that after burning, large amounts of ash and other toxic waste remain, which would have to be exported as Croatia has no facilities to deal with them.

A new strategic environmental assessment on the Plan also needs to be carried out as the current one denies various impacts on the environment without providing any evidence. The amended documents also need to be subjected to public consultation once again as this time, illegally, the documents were not available for the full consultation period.As well as an online consultation, public hearings also need to be held in larger cities across Croatia.
 

Photos from today's action can be found here.

Contact:
Marko Košak, Zelena akcija / Friends of theEarthCroatia,+385 99 272 52 26


20.10.15. 13:19