EU supports improvements in regulations to protect environment from the plastic bags’ irresponsible usage in BiH

The best photos of BiH environment polluted by plastic bags have been presented at the press conference in Banja Luka organised within the EU funded project “Reduction of plastic bags usage in BiH” on the occasion of the 5th of June – World’s Environment Day.

More than 200 photos portraying pollution of the environment caused by plastic bags participated in the competition which was organised during the previous two months. Jury of experts chose six best photos taken in Mostar, Čapljina, Han Pijesak, Fojnica and Foča that portray in a unique way pollution of the environment by plastic bags. More than 2,000 visitors of Facebook page of the Centres of civil initiatives (CCI) also participated in the selection of the best photos. “The goal of this ironic competition was to show to the public how big is this problem in entire BiH. Although we see it every day, and sometimes even contribute to it, many times we close our eyes pretending that these images are from somewhere else and not in our own country”, said Majda Stojanov, Spokeswoman of the CCI and emphasized once again that more than a billion plastic bags is being used in Bosnia and Herzegovina annually,  out of which majority ends up in the nature or in the best case, in one of the landfills where it decomposes for more than hundred years.

Head of Banja Luka Office of the EU Delegation to BiH, Mr. Guilio Zanni, stated that European Union is seriously considering how to resolve the problem of plastic bags within the Union, and one of possible solutions could even be the ban of their use. Mr. Zanni also stated some of the results of a comprehensive poll of public opinion conducted in the EU in 2011, which show that the great majority of citizens support the reduction of plastic-bags usage, as well as their complete ban and pricing policy, which should cause reduction of plastic-bags usage.

“Funds that could be gained from plastic bag fees could be used by the RS and FBiH Environment Protection Funds as an incentive for producers to produce biodegradable and quality plastic bags, and also for other environmental projects. We have firm promises from the Entity Ministries competent for ecology and trade that regulations in this area will be adopted during this year that could be in practice already next year. We have already provided to them a draft model of the solution, and it is up to them to agree with other interested parties and implement this solution equally in both entities.”, said Sinisa Bencun, CCI’s Project Manager, who presented the model of introduction of plastic bag fees, as well as the model of incentives for producers to produce biodegradable and quality reusable plastic bags. Positive example of retail chains is “DM Drogerie Markt” LLC, which started charging a plastic bag fee and donating the collected funds to different environmental protection projects.

Introduction of the plastic bag fee should not be considered as an impost to citizens. If they do not want it, then they can always use reusable bags and cloth bags. “Our goal is to make all interested parties satisfied with the new regulations and to protect the environment.”, said Svjetlana Radusin, Assistant Minister of Spatial Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology in RS Government.