Ban, or conscious refusal?
Russia may completely ban the use of plastic dinnerware in the near future, according to the Minister of National Resources and Environment Dmitry Kobylkin.
A draft law by the Green Party to ban ultra-lightweight plastic bags and polystyrene trays used to package bread, fruit and vegetables was presented to the Portuguese Parliament and approved in the first reading a few days ago.
Generally, Europe will completely abandon plastic goods until 2021. The relevant bill was adopted by the European Parliament on March 27.
In Azerbaijan, the issue of refusal of plastic goods is on the agenda from time to time. In February, Deputy Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Firdovsi Aliyev noted in his interview that refusal of plastic products will not happen at once, this work will be carried out gradually. He added that such a propaganda campaign had been launched by the ministry for more than six months.
What is the current situation in our country on this issue? In a report on the refusal of plastic dinnerware in Russia, 71 percent of the population said they were ready to give up such dishes. Is the population in Azerbaijan ready for it? Or does the work done in this direction give results? In fact, the word "refusal" is used more often in the news, but most people are expecting a ban on the legislative level in this direction. Will such a ban be?
Mehman Nabiyev, the sector manager at the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, said different countries have different experiences in the implementation of this process. "For example, some African countries have been banning plastic goods and they are not allowed to enter the country. However, in many countries this process is carried out gradually. Because people must be ready for it. Generally speaking, when refusing plastic products, it is supposed to gradually reduce the production of recyclable products that are once used. That is, it does not mean full ban on plastic products as they are replacing many products today. If we look at the experience of other countries, each has a specific target. Some of them aim to ban the production and import of these products in 2020, some in 2025. Previously, the work is carried out, decisions are made on the less use of disposable polyethylene bags. People must be ready for the ban of plastic bags and have the idea of using their alternatives,” he noted.
According to Nabiyev, the ministry has been conducting propaganda and campaign activities since last year. "Since 2018, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources has been engaged in propaganda work. We had call projects on refusal of plastic products in the markets. Last year, a flash mob was held, and various actions were organized in this regard. I can take an example of action like distributing fabric bags. At the same time, work is underway to bring these products into collection, sorting and recycling. Over 200 containers have been deployed in 37 districts throughout the country. These wastes are assembled and sent to recycling facilities. The ministry is doing this, but also media, non-governmental organizations, other relevant institutions, and private companies should take an active part in the process. The plan of actions approved by the head of state on February 7 is expected to be implemented in complex. Enlightenment, legislation measures, expansion of use of alternative materials, implementation of pilot projects, etc. are reflected. All relevant institutions take action in accordance with their respective areas of activity," the sector manager said.
Nabiyev emphasized that solving these issues is not a matter for a state agency. People have to be ready for this because plastic products are widely used in everyday life. "As a ministry we propose to use less plastic bags and replace them with paper or fabric bags. Before adopting this decision, people in many countries refuse to give up plastic products themselves. Now is a period of market economy. Producers will not be interested in the production of plastic products if people refuse using them. If people take paper or fabric bags to shops, polyethylene bags will be used less. Thus, shops will be gradually interested in paper and fabric bags," he said.
The expert added that it is wrong to say that the work done is ineffective. "At least, if we compare one year ago, people's approach to plastic goods is not the same. Both in the media and in social networks, propaganda work is carried out and gives its results," he said. "There may be some legislative measures, but enlightenment should lead people to be ready for it,” he noted.
Head of Public Relations Sector of the Food Safety Agency, Aysel Farziyeva, said that plastic containers and bags are widely used in food storage and packaging all over the world. The main reason is that plastic containers are cheap and easy to use. However, first of all, there is a need for awareness-raising campaigns for the population, and the Agency continues to work in this direction, she said. "Plastics are mainly made of oil, gas and coal. A number of additives are used in the production process. These ingredients make the product elastic and durable. But it also creates some dangers for human health. The Food Safety Agency recommends minimizing the use of plastic containers and bags to ensure the health of the population, preferring to use glass, pottery, wooden or paper bags when choosing to pack and transport the food. For this purpose, the Agency regularly carries out awareness-raising activities among the population. Various educational information is published in the media and social networks to educate the population. Within the framework of the project "Healthy student" aimed at promoting healthy nutrition among children and introducing the concept of food safety in schools, students are provided with extensive information on the damage of plastic dishes and bags. Under the project it is envisaged to hold educational meetings in 20 general education institutions in the capital and 60 general education institutions in the regions by the end of this year. The Food Safety Agency will continue to raise awareness," Farziyeva stressed.