One Central European country, Slovakia has been quick to take up the EU’s latest ‘green’ challenge on eliminating single-use plastics waste contributing to the pollution of the world’s oceans.
In response to the EU’s proposed directive targeting throwaway plastic goods, the Slovak government is already introducing legislation to phase out nine product types including plastic plates, cutlery, straws, stirrers, EPS food containers and cotton bud sticks.
Slovakia, which has a relatively poor record on waste management with a low level of recycling, aims to implement the EU regulations on single-use plastics ahead of the 2021 deadline set for member states to comply.
Its government is understood to have adopted the new regulations to cut the single-use plastic products as an amendment to Slovakia’s latest waste management legislation, the Waste Act.
Details of implementation and enforcement of the new measures will be the subject of government inter-departmental discussion later this year before they become law in Slovakia.
The country currently imports up to 14,000tpa of non-packaging plastic products, primarily plates, cutlery and drinking straws and these could eventually be replaced by more environmentally friendly alternatives, according to Slovak environment minister László Sólymos.
He said Slovakia wants to become a leader at fighting plastics waste in Central Europe, so his government intends to implement its new single-use plastics regulations before the EU directive deadline.
Recognising his country’s poor record in waste management, Sólymos said he is “convinced that Slovakia must stop being a perpetual catcher-up in the fight against waste”, especially necessary in the case of plastics.
Slovakia has taken previous steps to deal with the country’s growing plastics waste problem. Two years ago, parliament passed a law banning shops from issuing free thin plastic carrier bags to shoppers. This was due to take effect from 2019.
Slovaks were estimated on average to consume 466 plastic bags per year against the EU average of around 200 bags annually. Meanwhile, the nation‘s population was estimated to consume around one billion PET bottles a year.
Currently, the country is reportedly preparing new legislation to introduce a plastic bottle deposit scheme involving payment of a recoverable €0.10 deposit per container.