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Croatia: Ban on plastic bags and single-use plastic from July 3, 2024

Ban on single-use plastic in Croatia
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Since 2017, there has been an official ban on the sale of products such as plastic stirrers, earplugs, straws, cutlery and plates in Croatia. The law also bans containers for food and drinks made of so-called expanded polystyrene (EPS), including their stoppers and lids, and products made of oxo-degradable plastic, as reports.

Expanded polystyrene describes a foam material commonly known under the brand name Styropor. EPS is based on the hydrocarbon styrene, which has been processed commercially for around 150 years. Oxo-degradable plastics are plastics that fragment quickly after use.

The Croatian Waste Management Act also covers expanded polystyrene and so-called oxo-degradable plastics

This is achieved by adding metal ions such as cobalt, manganese or iron to conventional polymers such as polyethylene. In the presence of UV light or heat and oxygen, oxidation and chain degradation, i.e. the fragmentation process, are triggered.

This then leads to the formation of small fragments – invisible to the naked eye – which, contrary to what is often claimed, are hardly broken down any further. Oxo-degradation should not be confused with biodegradability.

Reason: a fragmentable plastic is a plastic that is degradable, but not in accordance with the applicable standards for organic recycling or the biodegradability of plastics and packaging. According to these organic standards, complete decomposition by microorganisms must be guaranteed, which is not the case with oxo-degradation.

Plastic carrier bags were already banned in 2022, and from next year all PET bottles must contain at least 25% recycled plastic

The marketing of plastic carrier bags has also been banned since the beginning of 2022. Under the new law, the state and districts are responsible for drawing up a waste management plan.

However, Croatia has set itself even more far-reaching goals with the law on single-use plastic items. One of the goals is that all PET bottles placed on the market in the Republic of Croatia from 2025 must contain at least 25% recycled plastic on average and at least 30% from 2030, writes Sunčica Šimić on

In addition to the composition of single-use plastic items, the law also stipulates additional labeling requirements. The manufacturer of a product who places a single-use plastic product on the market in the Republic of Croatia is obliged to ensure that the product contains, among other things, information on correct disposal or the possibility of avoiding disposal.

Croatia implements EU Directive 2019/904 (Single-Use Plastics Directive – EWCR) with the law

The law is intended to implement EU Directive 2019/904 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment (Single Use Plastics Directive – EWKRL, also known as the Single Use Plastics Directive, SUP-D or SUP Directive).

This sets out measures for ten product categories that account for 86 percent of single-use plastic products found in the environment. The Single-Use Plastics Directive aims to reduce the impact of certain plastic products on the environment.

The aim is to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic products and their impact on the environment through the careless discarding of waste (known as littering) and the associated marine litter.

This is to be achieved, among other things, by reducing consumption (Article 4 EWC Directive), bans (Article 5 EWC Directive), product design requirements (Article 6 EWC Directive), labeling requirements (Article 7 EWC Directive) and also extended producer responsibility (Article 8 EWC Directive).

The Packaging Directive (EU) 2018/852 and the Waste Framework Directive (EU) 2018/851, which also contains an overarching framework for packaging law obligations under European law, came into force before this.

Croatia transposed the EU directives into national law, but has not yet taken any further legislative measures to implement them

In October 2020, the Commission sent Croatia a letter of formal notice, followed by a reasoned opinion in June 2021. Croatia replied in July 2021, informing the Commission that the Directive would be implemented through the Waste Management Act and legislative measures (Pravilnik) for packaging and packaging waste.

Although the Croatian Waste Management Act entered into force on July 31, 2021, the necessary legislative measures to implement this law, which were to be adopted six months after this date, were neither adopted nor notified to the Commission.

For this reason, the European Commission decided in November 2023 to refer Croatia, which joined the EU on July 1, 2013, to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to notify the measures transposing Directive (EU) 2018/852 amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste into national law.

The Croatian island of Zlarin has set a good example: it has been single-use plastic-free since 2018

A Croatian island has voluntarily set a good example by banning plastic: Zlarin, a small island near Šibenik, is the first of its kind in Croatia to go completely single-use plastic-free since 2018, reports Tonči Petrić on (HRT). A ban on single-use plastic products such as shopping bags, straws, cups and mugs has been in place on the island for six years now.

The island, which is only eight square kilometers in size, has thus taken a “big step towards the long-term sustainability of the island, the Adriatic and Croatia as a whole”. With the initiative, which was selected as the best by the Adriatic Plastic Challenge, Zlarin wants to do its part to reduce the “alarming increase in plastic pollution”.

During the tourist season, the number of people on the island increases by more than 25 times the normal population, HRT quotes those responsible for the project; as a result, more than a thousand plastic bags have to be disposed of – every day.

Sports skippers can do a lot to support Croatia’s efforts to promote sustainable and environmentally friendly development

People are running out of time: if no immediate changes are made, the waters of the Šibenik archipelago could fall victim to global statistics, the initiators feared: “Scientists have predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish swimming in the sea”. (More on the topic)

Ban on plastic bags in Croatia
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Sports skippers from Germany and Austria in particular, who spend their vacation in Croatian waters with their own or chartered boat, can do a lot to support Croatia’s efforts to promote sustainable and environmentally friendly development .

In Austria, the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive was transposed into national law in the Waste Management Act 2002 and the Packaging Ordinance 2014; Germany has also adopted the EU requirements almost 1:1. Liability under the EWKR and the national laws based on it lies with the manufacturer or retailer (the laws refer to placing on the market).

So if, for example, holidaymakers from Germany or Austria import large quantities of drinks for their own consumption in disposable plastic bottles from home to Croatia by car (partly to avoid the higher Croatian prices or to avoid having to constantly refill), this is currently permitted.

The prerequisite for this is that the empty plastic bottles or beverage cans are disposed of properly in the yellow garbage cans provided for this purpose in Croatia or that the plastic waste produced is taken back to the countries of origin and disposed of properly there.

Austria will also have a single-use deposit system from 2025, and a mandatory reusable quota will be introduced from 2024

In contrast to Germany, the fact that Austria did not have a single-use deposit system until now and that drinks in reusable systems were not available everywhere was a problem. However, this is set to change next year: from 2025, Austria will also have a single-use deposit system.

Anyone who buys plastic bottles or aluminum cans will then pay a 25 cent deposit. If the empty bottles and cans are returned, the buyer will receive the money back. This is to ensure that the packaging is actually recycled and does not end up in the environment. Climate Minister Leonore Gewessler issued the corresponding deposit regulation in September last year.

A mandatory reusable quota will be introduced in Austria from January of this year. Reusable bottles will then soon be available across the board, including from discounters. In addition to beer and mineral water, fruit juices and other beverages will then also be regularly available in reusable bottles.

In essence, the EWKR is about reducing the impact of certain plastic products on the environment – a goal worth supporting

However, if you look at the aim of the Single-Use Plastics Directive EWKR, it is essentially about reducing the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. For example, the environmental impact is to be generally reduced by reducing the consumption of such products and the littering of public spaces – including and especially water – and its negative consequences are to be stopped as far as possible, a concern worthy of support.

With this in mind, skippers and crew should consider whether they want to support this goal through their concrete actions before their next vacation in Croatia – on a voluntary basis, so to speak.

It’s actually quite simple: instead of buying drinks and food in disposable plastic packaging (or in cans) when bunkering, for example, reusable systems should be used as far as possible; plastic bags should be replaced by reusable bags and pouches.

Finally: buying locally saves on fuel (which should outweigh the sometimes higher costs of buying locally) – and also strengthens the local Croatian economy.

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