Wałbrzych ‘ahead of the game’ as it becomes ONLY city in Poland to ban single-use plastic
Wałbrzych, a city of 113,000 inhabitants in south-western Poland, has become the first city in the country to ban single-use plastics.
Amid rising concern about plastic’s impact on the environment and human health, the EU is cracking down on the use of single-use plastics, which are used only briefly before ending up in the bin or, worse, directly on a beach somewhere, where it will soon end up in the ocean.
Recently, the European Parliament approved an EU ban on ten types of single-use plastic items from 2021, which will include straws, cutlery and cotton buds. EU countries will also have to collect and recycle at least 90% of drinks bottles by 2029.
With its ban, which will enter force on 1 May, Wałbrzych is ahead of the game. It will encompass single-use plastic packaging, cutlery and plates. These items will be banned at municipal institutions and from events organised by the city — as well as ones subsidised by it.
While the measures reflect broader European trends, they are a response to the situation locally.
According to the city’s mayor, Roman Szełemej, Wałbrzych’s inhabitants generate about five 1m3 cubes’ worth of plastic waste per day, each weighing roughly 200 kg.
With the authorities struggling to dispose of waste, “mountains of plastic are growing,” Szełemej explained.
The authorities are already planning for local events, like the Flower Festival at the end of April and this summer’s half-marathon, to go ahead without the use of plastic cups or plates.
The measures will be accompanied by an educational campaign seeking to raise awareness about plastic waste – and how it can be reduced – among the city’s inhabitants.
All children starting the first grade of primary school in Wałbrzych this autumn will receive a reusable bottle from the city.