Rubbish Management 2018

Published in Environment

Rubbish management is a hot topic, not to say hot potato, around the world at the moment, especially in Croatia, where the European Directives which were laid down some years ago are finally due to come into force on November 1st 2018.

Binning litter, do it right! Binning litter, do it right! Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Most visitors from other European Union countries have been shocked to find that on Hvar, up to now, there has been little attempt to separate household waste into recyclable, compostable and non-recyclable units. That is all set to change, as local authorities roll out the new programme. Households are being issued with bins and bags for separating recyclable and reusable materials from waste. Householders now have new contracts with the waste management company operating in their area. Inevitably, individuals will pay more in fees for the new system.

Mayor Nikša Peronja takes delivery of Jelsa's new rubbish carts, July 2014. Photo:Vivian Grisogono

Up to now, some places on Hvar have enjoyed doorstep collection services, while the majority of households have had the use of rubbish bins in the vicinity. In either case, the rubbish was collected on a regular basis, with more collections during the busy summer months. Under the new system, each household has a bin or a bag for mixed household waste, besides bags for recyclable waste. Different sizes are available, according to the individual needs of each household. Hvar Town is issuing general rubbish bins for 80, 240 or 1100 litres, or bags with similar capacities. Door-to-door collections will continue where there is direct road access to properties. Otherwise householders have to leave their waste at a designated spot at appointed times. Hvar Town has issued winter and summer schedules for the collections, the price list showing how the services are charged (in Croatian), and (in English) instructions for separating rubbish as required. 

Recycling bins in Hvar, 2014, waiting for their time to come. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Rubbish is to be sorted into the different materials which can be recycled, and organic materuial which can be composted. Recyclabler materials are collected in the householders' bins or bags, or they can be put into the appropriate bins in the so-called 'green islands' (zeleni otoci) which are to be placed in various locations around Hvar's main settlements.

Recycling bins must be used properly for the system to work. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The success of the new system depends on people's co-operation. Before the arrival of the rubbish containers and regular collection services on Hvar, waste disposal was a big problem. Rubbish was either burned or disposed of as and where, around the countryside and fields, in ruined buildings, in every nook and cranny where it was at least half hidden. Old habits die hard, and it is still all too obvious that many people, including youngsters, drop litter and dump rubbish thoughtlessly, selfishly and indiscriminately. The result is a mess, and, much worse, untold ecological damage and pollution.

Trying to get the message across on Jadrolinija ferries. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

It will certainly take a strong educational campaign to create compliance. We have to hope that the island will not sink back into a universal habit of littering, rubbish dumping and fly tipping. Of course, the law envisages fines for people guilty of flouting the rules, but I don't know anyone who believes that enforcement will be adequate, or that the threat of punishment will produce the desired effect.

Careless littering, a bad habit. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

We welcome the principle that less rubbish will be dumped in landfill. Separating materials for recycling will be an improvement on sending all types of waste to pollute the earth and sea. Croatia is due to have some 97 recycling yards to fulfil the Directives, with some 80% of their construction costs being financed by the EU, assuming that local authorities prepare their project proposals correctly and on time. It seems most local councils have delayed applying for finance for recycling depots until the last moment (you can read about this in Croatian here). From the recycling depots on Hvar, the separated materials will be shipped to the mainland. So far so good. But then? There are recycling works in Croatia (article in Croatian here), but the facilities have not developed to the extent that seemed to be promised back in 2006 (article in Croatian here).  So it is not clear what can happen to the recyclable materials from Hvar, other than storage in the hope of an eventual solution.

How not to dispose of poison packaging in Stari Grad's historic Ager. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

It is clear that we need to reduce the amount of non-degradable waste we produce, regardless of whether it can be recycled or not. Individuals in different countries are showing the way by example. One of these is Bea Johnson, whose website, 'Zero Waste Home' is a blueprint of ways for people to reduce their rubbish footprint. Her book of the same name1 is a number-one bestseller, which she has presented in numerous countries around the world. It is published in 20 languages, and has been translated into Catalan2 by Esther Penarrubia, agronomist and English teacher, who has also been spreading the word during her travels around Europe. On Friday March the 5th, in Stari Grad's elementary school, she presented the English version of the book to a receptive audience.

Esther with organizer Nora in Stari Grad. Photo: Jelena Gracin

The weather was fierce that evening, with rain and one of Stari Grad's famous high flood tides, so the relatively high turnout was witness to the real desire of local people to do something positive for their island environment.

A good turnout on a stormy night in Stari Grad. Photo: Jelena Gracin
Bea Johnson's prescription: "Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (and only in that order) is my family’s secret to living waste-free since 2008!"Reuse is a logical way to reduce waste. Glass bottles and jars are the cleanest type of container for liquids. The old-fashioned system of washing and re-using bottles and jars provided secure employment for some, including disabled people. Unnecessary waste was prevented. Reuse was clearly more economical than creating new containers while spending on destroying the old ones. What is recycled glass used for? Very little goes to producing new glass products. In truth, recycling glass makes no sense at all.

Plastic containers for foods and liquids make no sense at all either. They are potentially harmful to human health. For instance the phthalates (used as plasticizers in plastic bottles as well as other uses) have been found to affect the human thyroid gland, and have been implicated in children's behavioural problems3. By contrast with glass, plastic food and drink containers should not be reused.

Micro-plastics, which have the widest variety of uses, are now recognized as a major environmental scourge, alongside plastic bags. Not all plastics can be recycled effectively. Left in the environment they will last for hundreds of years, causing ever-increasing damage to wildlife. The only logical solution is to reduce the use of plastics to the barest minimum, and to revert to more environmentally friendly materials for food and drink packaging,such as Beeswrap for sandwiches.

There is reason for cautious optimism. There is worldwide awareness of how badly plastics have affected the environment, and there are many initiatives aiming to curb the problem.

Giving consumers the right to choose products without plastic packaging is a big step forward. Consumer power can drive change. With enough awareness, habits will change for the better and the world will be freed from an ever-increasing spiral of degradation. 

 

© Vivian Grisogono 2018 

References

1. Johnson, B. 2013. Zero Waste Home, The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying your Life by Reducing your Waste. Scribner, New York (UK edition Penguin, 2016)

2. Johnson, B., Trans Penarrubia, E.,  Residuo Cero en Casa. pol-len edicions 

3. Engel, S.M., Miodovnik, A., Canfield, R.L., Zhu, C., Silva, M.J., Calafat, A.M., Wolff, M.S. 2010.  Prenatal Phthalate Exposure Is Associated with Childhood Behavior and Executive Functioning. Environmental Health Perspectives, 118: 565-571 (37 references)

 

You are here: Home environment articles Rubbish Management 2018

Eco Environment News feeds

  • ‘Extremely grave’ situation in southern Indian state as more than 150,000 people displaced from their homes

    The death toll from floods in the southern Indian state of Kerala has jumped to 164 and could grow further, with more rain predicted and thousands of people still awaiting rescue.

    Roads are damaged, mobile phone networks are down, an international airport has been closed and more than 150,000 people have been left homeless after unusually heavy rain this month caused the most damaging floods in Kerala in a century.

    Continue reading...

  • Trump administration forces some scientific funding to be reviewed by adviser who was high-school football teammate of Ryan Zinke

    Prominent US climate scientists have told the Guardian that the Trump administration is holding up research funding as their projects undergo an unprecedented political review by the high-school football teammate of the US interior secretary.

    The US interior department administers over $5.5bn in funding to external organizations, mostly for research, conservation and land acquisition. At the beginning of 2018, interior secretary Ryan Zinke instated a new requirement that scientific funding above $50,000 must undergo an additional review to ensure expenditures “better align with the administration’s priorities”.

    Continue reading...

  • Just 30 of the prehistoric fish known to exist, raising fears oil wells will push it to extinction

    Bright blue, older than dinosaurs and weighing as much as an average-sized man, coelacanths are the most endangered fish in South Africa and among the rarest in the world.

    Barely 30 of these critically-endangered fish are known to exist off the east coast of South Africa, raising concern that a new oil exploration venture in the area could jeopardise their future.

    Continue reading...

  • This week the Upside looks at a transformation of the environment in Africa, and other tales of hope

    Is there any hope for the environment? We regularly get this question in emails from readers of this series. In the face of weekly stories on how humans have doomed our planet, some feel action is pointless. We’re certainly not here to distract from the scary news about our climate; it deserves everyone’s attention and we must make big changes now. But it’s arguable whether people are likely to act without hope.

    This week we found one tale of hope on the border of the Sahara desert. We also looked at a possible antidote to social isolation among retirees (another frequent subject of reader emails), and a tale of solidarity and humanity from the Balkans.

    Continue reading...

  • An anaesthetised polar bear, a surprising pine marten and a potty-mouthed parrot are among this week’s images

    Continue reading...

  • Rangers in this Central African Republic nature reserve face an array of dangers in their bid to protect a rich variety of species

    Deep in the heart of Africa, a dedicated group of rangers patrol the Chinko nature reserve. In baking equatorial heat, they are weighed down with body armour and camouflage fatigues. Beads of sweat run down their faces; mosquitos whine. The men keep watch over a vast patchwork of savanna and rainforest in the Central African Republic – a country mired in civil strife and one of the many frontlines of a poaching war that spans the continent and reaches across the globe.

    Continue reading...

  • Khan writes to attorney general over girl who died during spikes in nitrogen dioxide

    The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has written to the attorney general asking him to back a new inquest into the death of a nine-year-old girl whose severe asthma attacks coincided with spikes in air pollution.

    The mother of Ella Kissi-Debrah has fought a long campaign to highlight the role she believes illegal air pollution played in her daughter’s death in 2013.

    Continue reading...

  • Jorginho Guajajara’s killing is believed by members of his tribe to be the result of conflict with loggers in their Amazon territory

    Indigenous people in the Brazilian Amazon are mourning the murder of a community leader who campaigned to protect the forest from logging amid escalating violence in the region.

    Jorginho Guajajara, a cacique,or leader, of the Guajajara people, was found dead near a river in the city of Arame, Maranhão state, at the weekend.

    Continue reading...

  • On a planet of billions, nine represent the strong minority battling murder in the global corruption of land rights

    Individually, they are stories of courage and tragedy. Together, they tell a tale of a natural world under ever more violent assault.

    The portraits in this series are of nine people who are risking their lives to defend the land and environment in some of the planet’s most remote or conflict-riven regions.

    Continue reading...

  • Eleven people protesting over pollution from a copper plant have been killed by police in Tamil Nadu in south India

    Another person has been shot dead during violent protests in south India against a copper plant operated by a British mining giant residents say is polluting the local environment.

    Opposition politicians in the state of Tamil Nadu have accused the police of committing mass murder against protesters opposed to the expansion of a copper smelting facility in the port city of Thoothukudi.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds