11/03/14 Everyone Wants to Protect Our Environment Except Those in Charge

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Animal Friends criticize shameful decision against ban on plastic bags

- As a tourist country, instead of a scandal, we should consider longterm general interests and protect our environment ourselves

Animal Friends have written to the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection regarding the vote against the proposal by the European Commission to ban using thin plastic bags in order to reduce their excessive use and their damaging effects upon the environment.

Animal Friends organization points out how shameful it is that Croatia has, as the only member of the EU Council to have done so, voted against this civilized and ecologically-advanced proposal, therefore presenting herself as a backward country that does not care to preserve her own natural heritage and rich biological diversity. Their statement therefore clearly illustrates how everyone else wants to protect Croatia and her environment - citizens, associations, EU - apart from the governing Ministry and politicians who obviously want rubbished woodlands, rivers and seas.

Animal Friends would like to remind that they have contacted the Ministry more than once, asking for definite steps to be undertaken in order to reduce plastic bags usage. In 2009 they submitted a petition to the Ministry, asking for a legal ban on plastic bags, and they collected over 27,000 signatures. They also wrote again following the European commission order dated November 4, 2013, which requested that member countries reduce usage of thin plastic bags. As an organization that is working on sustainable development, they consider it unacceptable for Croatia to have, over many years, neglected the necessity of banning or at least reducing the use of plastic bags.

This absurdity is even greater because Croatia is a tourist country and as such should be, first and foremost, working on protecting its own interests and the interests of the generations to come. Croatia has an enormous usage of plastic bags that are given out for free in almost every store. Animal Friends believes that it is unnecessary to stress that not one bag is actually free because their end price is paid by our, already overloaded, environment. Hundreds of thousands of animals die because they get tangled into plastic bags or they mistake them for food. Plastic bags take decades to fall apart into smaller pieces and they remain in the environment for years after as plastic dust.

Furthermore, the supporters of the Animal Friends organization refute as in-valid the argument that a ban on plastic bags would cause damage to companies and the employment of those who manufacture plastic bags in Croatia. Companies that manufacture plastic bags also produce other things and they could re-route their production. Plastic bags recycling is not economical and it is hard to do as only around 1% of plastic bags ends up being recycled. However, even significant increase in plastic bags recycling would not solve a problem of their excessive manufacture that is requiring huge resources and chemicals.

Animal Friends stresses again its suggestion to ban plastic bags in Croatia or at least for them not to be free. They point out that a compulsory charge on bags has been proven to reduce their usage, educate the citizens and fill up the budget.

Also, plastic bags manufacturers, stores and supermarket chains would be encouraged to offer citizens longer lasting and ecologically aware solutions that are reasonably priced, and citizens would be motivated to themselves contribute to preserving the environment and protecting the animals by using the multiple-use items.

At the end of their letter Animal Friends state that they expect concrete steps from the Ministry with the goal of protecting the environment and nature.

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