Plastic bags will soon be history, and in the future Montenegrin consumers will carry goods bought at the market as they once used to do - in wicker baskets, linen or paper bags. This is how the imminent future might look if the proposed Waste Management Bill gets approved, which is now due to the working group. The Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism (MORT) organized a public debate on the Draft Law in August. After that, several articles were added to the draft, including the ban on plastic bags "used for placing goods available to consumers". Plastic bags, as stated in the Proposal, will only be permitted if the packaging in which the product is packed and if the use of such items is "necessary for security reasons". Such packaging, as proposed, should be banned six months from the date of entry into force of the law. The bill also envisages misdemeanor fines ranging from one thousand to 40 thousand euros for companies, but for those which sell them, and not those which are placed on the market of disposable plastic bags. Before the public debate, the draft law foresaw introducing fees for a certain type of bags from the beginning of 2020, and to reduce the level of annual consumption by up to 40 plastic bags per person, a plan of the European Union envisaged that from January 1st next year the number of plastic bags will be limited to 90 per capita, or 40 from 2025.
According to the Initiative #ocistime, whose petition for banning plastic bags is underway, every citizen of Montenegro uses about 730 disposable plastic bags annually.
The initiative for banning the plastic bags was launched two years ago by Zero Waste Montenegro (ZWM). In July 2017, they started a national petition requesting the abolition of plastic bags, and at the beginning of September of the same year, after submitting the 3,000 signatures of Montenegrin citizens, they received a response from the authorities and convinced that Montenegro was ready for the change. Disappointing that nothing had happened in practice, in cooperation with the #ocistime initiative a few months ago, they launched a new petition. A few days ago, the Civic Movement URA supported the ban on plastic bags.
With a new legal solution, if accepted, in addition to the ban on plastic bags, from 2025, a number of other disposable plastic products will be banned. This will prevent the use of cotton sticks, other than those used for medical purposes; it will be forbidden to use plastic eating utensils, plates, straws. There is also a ban on plastic bottles that are not manufactured by at least 35 percent of the recycled material, i.e., those which cannot be recycled.
It will be permitted to use some disposable plastic products under the condition that they contain a label on the method of disposal and the message of negative environmental impacts arising from the improper disposal of the waste product.
In March, the European Parliament, with the majority of its deputies, voted in favor for a directive prohibiting placing disposable plastic items on the market from 2021.
Montenegro's Proposed Waste Management Law foresees the introduction of a deposit-return system for waste packaging. It is a system that has been used for certain brands of beer for decades but does not include plastic bottles for water and non-alcoholic beverages or other types of foreign brands.
ZWM reminds that part of this system also included bottles of wine and mineral water, but their collection has long been suspended. The deposit amount, according to the Waste Management Bill Proposal, cannot exceed 30 percent of the amount of the sales price of the product. It is anticipated that the Government for the deposit refund system may set up a business with a legal personality. ZWM explains that in the system of reimbursement of deposits, recycling costs are borne by producers and consumers, not by the state and taxpayers.
How the deposit system works
The ZWM initiative explained on their official page how the deposit system should function. In this chain, the retailers pay distributers or beverage suppliers for each purchased can or bottle. The consumer pays a deposit when purchasing a beverage, and when the empty can or bottle is returned to a retailer, purchasing center or bottle vendor, the deposit is refunded. The deposit of the merchant will be refunded from the distributor at an optional processing fee.
New obligations for fishers
The Bill, in relation to the Draft, has added an article to treat the waste of fishing tools.
Thus, since 2025, the recycling of plastic fishing gear is envisaged, it is also possible to introduce contributions to promote the fishing gear intended for reuse and recycling and to add a depository system for waste fishing gear.
Text by Damira Kalac, on May 23rd, 2019, read more at Vijesti