Zero Waste Croatia Network: The European Commission confirmed the damage caused by Croatian Ministry of Environment

Gathered in a coalition “Zero Waste Croatia”, environmental NGO’s and citizens’ initiatives from all over the Croatia are warning public about dangerous consequences of irrational act of forcing construction of regional centers for waste management and demanding formal resignation of Croatian minister of Environmental Protection and Energetics, Tomislav Ćorić. European Commission has warned about the damages on Monday, and Ministry has once again shown the incredible skills of unconvincing manipulation and indifference towards public interest.

In its recent report, the European Commission has stressed that Croatia is one of the members of EU facing a very high risk of not meeting the recycling targets by 2020, meaning the citizens would be the ones who will pay for it in the form of very high bills for waste management. These penalties will most likely affect responsible citizens willing to separate and recycle their waste, while irresponsible cities and municipalities, together with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, haven’t provided a decent system.

The European Commission presented a number of criticisms of the existing system and their recommendations for improvement. Some of them are: "Separate collection of recyclable waste, including bio-waste, is still not efficiently implemented", "Economic incentives for citizens and local self-government units have not yet been introduced", "It is necessary to review spending priorities from EU funds; currently it is focused on building waste management centres, while they should be focusing on separating waste for recycling and bio-waste ".

Bear in mind that the European Commission has already reacted to the damaging plans of Croatian government and counties two years ago, when the construction of 13 mega waste management centres was planned, saying Croatia is at the high risk of not meeting EU obligations regarding separate collection of waste. The warning from the European Commission was ignored, as well as multiple warnings coming from the environmental NGOs, citizens and experts.

Instead of abandoning the idea of construction of new centers and improving the system of separate collection, recycling and composting, the Ministry encourages the investment of few billions HRK in 9 centers, although their lack of functioning and efficiency was clearly visible through the example of already constructed ones (Marišćina and Kaštijun). They have problems with capacity, smell, pollution, cost, and inability to sell poor quality products (RDF, SRF). These centers are managed by  companies governed by counties, earning money for few individuals, which was shown in the case of Piškornica, where the director (also the director of all waste management centres in Croatia) paid himself milion-worth bonuses for nothing more but the environmental pollution and lack of efficient work.

For more than a year, the Ministry has been promising announcements of call for applications for co-funding of sorting centres, composting facilities and re-use centres, none of which actually  happened, while it was making numerous harmful decisions.

For example, the amendments to the Law stipulating that local self-government units are obliged to deliver their waste to centers, conclusion on the need for a study in order to build a waste recovery system (incinerators) in the Republic of Croatia, and the last year's decision on waste management plan which, without a revision or a study, stimulates obsolete technology and defines  high capacities of the waste management centers at the disputed locations.

Furthermore, the Ministry is involved in numerous disputes with civic initiatives and NGOs, such as disputes over the centers in Lećevica and Lučino Razdolje. The Ministry refuses to hold a public hearing or to publish the feasibility studies, important for defining parameters for the citizens’ life quality, most likely due to lack of ability to use valid argumentation to the experts’ and citizens’ criticism.

 What is the purpose of the Ministry of Environmental Protection if it’s systematically causing the damage to the environment instead of protecting it?

All these facts indicate that minister Ćorić is both incapable  to solve problems and that he’s neglecting the purpose of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. We are inviting prime minister to release the minister of his duties, and the future minster to start working for the benefits of public interest and environmental protection.

The Ministry has to respect the European Commission’s warning, as well as the warnings from the outraged public and lastly, common sense. Instead of  manipulative bragging about the investments in circular economy, the Ministry has to give up on building the waste management centers and start to implement concrete measures to secure available, affordable and decentralized system of waste separation and recycling. These measures would enable the government’s obligation to meet the recycling goals set up by the European Commission, avoiding huge penalties that otherwise would have to be paid by citizens.

28.09.18. 10:48