MACEDONIA TO BAN PLASTIC BAGS
As of January 1st 2009, plastic bags will become history in Macedonia. The environmental ministry has banned any type of plastic bag in the retail and food sectors, as well as at markets. The bags will still be legal for items weighing more than 5kg; however, the customer must pay for them.
The ban is part of a nationwide effort to address the widespread spectacle of plastic bags fouling the countryside.
Environmental Minister Nexhati Jakupi said the government intends to reduce excessive use and improper disposal of the bags, as well as eliminate the public-health threat of carcinogenic emissions from burning plastic bags.
Jakupi's ministry hopes to elevate producers and importers' sense of social responsibility and to stimulate the distribution of reusable cloth bags. Jakupi said that though plastic bags are practical and cheap, their drawbacks outweigh their convenience. The production of a plastic bag takes just seconds, but decomposition of the same bag takes 400 years.
Macedonia generates 650,000 tonnes of communal waste per year or 300kg to 350kg per capita annually. The figure includes garbage from households, streets, businesses and institutions.
According to the ministry, there are around 1,000 illegal dumps in rural Macedonia. Cities and towns have their own garbage disposal problem: out of approximately 50 urban landfills, only one follows regulations. Governments trying to open new landfills face intense opposition by locals.
One of the most successful projects for reducing the use of plastic includes assistance by USAID. The project, which began in 2005, provides convenient drop-off points (in four cities so far) for used bottles that can later be recycled.
Progress is evident in the lack of plastic bottles on the streets and in dumps.
MD: This is a smart thing! In Macedonia they give you a plastic bag for everything! And they all end up in the streets or our beautifull nature. Time to stop it.