Slovakia banned single-use plastics as of 2021 on Wednesday, joining the European Union fight to reduce marine pollution. The new law will make it illegal to sell plastic plates, cups, cutlery, drink stirrers, straws and cotton buds, among similar items.
72 lawmakers voted in favour of the waste management bill, 30 against and 32 abstained. "Our goal is to motivate people to separate waste, and manufacturers to produce recyclable products," Environment Minister Laszlo Solymos told reporters after the vote.
Waste management experts believe the law will trigger a boom in the use of biodegradable packaging. We expect the new law to result in a greater use of more sustainable alternatives from renewable sources - wood, paper or bioplastics in the everyday life," Katarina Kretter, a spokeswoman for private recycling company ENVI-PAK, told AFP.
Currently, up to 14,000 tonnes of no-packaging plastic products are imported to Slovakia, mostly plastic straws, plates and cutlery. These products can be replaced by more ecologic alternatives. Searching for these alternatives also opens doors for Slovak entrepreneurs, according to Sólymos.
Slovakia has the ambition to become a leader in this area in central Europe. The country has already adopted a law to ban the use of single-use bags and will soon adopt a law on plastic bottles and cans deposits. Moreover, the ministry also wants to work on the methodology of supporting the no-package shops in Slovakia and charge for all types of plastic bags, he added.
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. Currently, the country is preparing new legislation to introduce a plastic bottle deposit scheme involving payment of a recoverable €0.10 deposit per container.