Every month some 200 million plastic bags are spent in Serbia, and they stay in the nature for centuries, due to difficult decomposition. The eco-friendly packaging, which decomposes in two years, is just around 10% more expensive, while incomparably better for the environment. The law on packaging and packaging waste could solve the problem of the so-called white waste. The report of Aleksandra Novakovic.
Plastic bags take 200-1000 years to decompose, as they are made of polyethylene, thermal plastic gained from the processing of oil. In order to produce one kilogram of this material, two kilos of carbon-dioxide is emitted to the atmosphere. The average monthly production of bags in Serbia requires the processing of some 500 tons of polyethylene. Creation of the harmful waste can only be avoided by prohibiting the production and use of this kind of packaging and through recycling. The Ministry of Environmental Protection has announced a decree on stimulating measures, in order to remove the plastic bags from circulation and boost the production of bio-degradable packaging, which at the moment is used by only 15% of companies, and the manufacturers of such packaging point that those are mostly foreign companies, but they are gradually joined by local shopping chains.
Vranje is the first town in Serbia where a year ago the utilization of plastic bags was almost banned in the markets, shops and bakeries. The decision was passed in 2008, and the experts and manufacturers of degradable bags say there are two kinds, but predominantly used in Serbia, like in most other countries, are the “polydal”, i.e. photo-degradable bags. The other sort of bio-degradable packaging is made of starch; it is of better quality, but also costs up to ten times more. The production of such packaging demands big financial investment, since at issue is the new and expensive technology that is still not in use here. Bags of that kind disappear in a few years under the rays of the Sun, leaving behind only carbon-dioxide, biomass and water.
The prohibition of plastic bangs in the EU was enforced in 2012. Spain plans to cut the number of plastic bags in half by the end of this year, and completely put a ban on them in 2013. In Ireland, high taxes are charged from those who use them in supermarkets. In overcoming this type of problem, each society must stimulate the citizens, organizations and business entities to obey the ecological norms, thus developing the sense of personal responsibility for the environment. The pollution with plastic packaging is a problem that Serbia has to solve in the period of European integrations.
With the action entitled “Let’s clean Serbia” the Ministry of Environmental Protection has set off to battle the ecological problems in the country, and plastic bags are one of the polluting agents that need to be dealt with. The manufacturers are ready to start making better bags, but also to be paying additional taxes for the production of plastic ones. According to the competent ministry, those assets would be invested in recycling.