We can address the issue of fires in plastic plants at their root by investing in returnable packaging systems that rely on water for cleaning, rather than using it to extinguish hazardous fires.
Due to the recent plastic fires in the recycling plant of Drava International d.o.o. in Osijek and the company Eko-flor in Mokrice (part of the C.I.O.S. group), member organisations of the Platform for Combating Plastic Pollution in Croatia are once again expressing their concern over the delay in adopting the Ordinance on packaging, packaging waste, and single-use plastics. The rulebook was supposed to be adopted in 2021; however, it still hasn't been, even though ten months have passed since the end of the public consultation.
"We ask that the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development finally adopt the Rulebook and consider our comments. The Ministry is responsible for creating preconditions for waste planning and for sustainable waste management to avoid such scenarios in the future", said the Platform.
The primary concern revolves around the single-use PET packaging, mainly collected through the seven-cent return fee system. "This packaging makes up the largest percentage of separately collected plastic waste suitable for recycling", commented the Platform.
The existing plastic waste management system in Croatia relies on profit-driven companies that prioritize financial gains over human health and environmental well-being, such as Drava International, which has been an example of market monopoly and poor management over the years. "Returnable packaging systems, as well as recycling, should be locally organised and publicly owned to ensure that the public interest comes before individual company profits", emphasised the Platform.
Irresponsible management has already resulted in fires several times. Because of this, people, including workers and firefighters, suffer the immediate consequences, and everyone lives in fear of the possible long-term consequences that plastic fires bring with them.
The adoption of the Ordinance provides an opportunity to put an end to the excessive production and consumption of single-use plastics through ambitious provisions. "This primarily leads to a reduction in the volume of residual waste, characterized by its unfortunate tendency to be more combustible than recyclable", they added.
Cases of such fires are not rare. Namely, they happen sporadically in different parts of Europe, from France through Italy and Latvia all the way to Turkey. "These fires confirm to us that accumulating plastic for recycling poses significant risks to both the environment and the community. That's why we have to think in the direction of prevention and reuse, instead of relying exclusively on recycling, which often ends up being burned. And we wonder if all these fires are just a coincidence", the members of the Platform concluded.
The member organisations of the Platform that co-signed this acceptance are Zelena akcija / FoE Croatia, Greenpeace Croatia, Association for Independent Media Culture, Association Sunce from Split, Association Terra Hub Croatia, and Association Tatavaka, and it was supported by the Association Zeleni Osijek and the Climate Scientists initiative.
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