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EU declares war on plastic litter in Mediterranean

"Garbage Day" protest in Naples as rubbish piles up
Naples (AFP) April 9, 2011 - Protesters turned out in Italy's southern city of Naples on Saturday for "Garbage Day" demonstrations against growing piles of rubbish littering the streets, and called for a new waste recycling scheme. Protesters in brightly coloured "death masks" bearing the slogan "those who burn waste, burn lives" threw fake garbage bags through the streets in protest at the malodorous mounds of waste, rotting in the sun as temperatures rise. The "Citizens of Campagna Project" called for a door-to-door recycling scheme as the Campagna region struggled to resolve the ongoing garbage problem, despite warnings of heavy fines from the European Commission last November. But Naples' hygiene assessor Paolo Giacomelli said they did not have the funds to pay for such a project.

"I believe in this protest but the figures speak for themselves. The council would have to spend 20 million euros (29 million dollars) for such a scheme. And the money isn't there," he said, La Repubblica daily reported. Protesters carted through the streets a large cardboard tiered cake with 17 candles on top -- one for every year of the crisis -- and a fake incinerator that spewed out toxic gases in the form of white balloons. There are currently 3,500 tons of garbage littering the region, with 1,650 in the city centre, according to Italian media. Fire fighters have been called out increasingly frequently over the last week to put out rubbish fires. The ongoing garbage crisis flared up last November when regional dumps were closed after fierce protests from local residents. An EU team of inspectors travelled to the garbage-strewn city at the time and urged Italy to implement a waste disposal plan drawn up after the country was found to be in breach of EU legislation in March 2010.
by Staff Writers
Athens (AFP) April 8, 2011
EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik on Friday declared war on marine litter fouling the Mediterranean, calling for continental mobilisation including a possible ban on plastic bags.

"Marine litter is a big, big problem. I am determined to address it," he told an Athens conference attended by environmentalists and representatives of the plastic industry. "I invite you to join us and say no to the 'plastic monster'."

"In the Mediterranean Sea, it has been estimated that there are around 250 billion floating plastic particles and 500 tonnes of plastic," he added. "It's an increasingly serious threat to biodiversity, human and ecosystem health, our economy."

Potocnik, a Slovenian, noted that the "serious impact" of single use plastic bags on the environment was discussed by EU ministers in March, with an agreement to work together on developing effective responses.

Greek participants at the conference underscored the problem posed by the many open-air landfills on Greek islands.

"We must consider and analyse the impact of all options, including a Europe-wide ban of plastics bags," said Potocnik, who was flanked by EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki of Greece.

He also stressed the need for better waste management to protect the marine environment, pointing out that 80 percent of marine litter originates from land, while the rest is caused by merchant or fishing vessels.

And Potocnik called for EU funding of waste collection schemes by fishermen modelled on an existing pilot project on the French Riviera.

He also praised Greece for its efforts to shut down hundreds of illegal landfills while noting that the country was still lagging in the area of waste management.

"They are doing a serious job and if they continue in that way, then I do believe that there will be no need to go to the court for a second time," he noted.

He said Athens in December put forward an "ambitious action plan" to close all illegal landfills by the end of June, and to rehabilitate all the closed ones by the middle of next year.

"They are reporting to us on a monthly basis," Potocnik said. "Waste management is the main problem."




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Danube Will Solve Hungary's Environmental Disaster
Chisinau (RIA Novosti) Apr 08, 2011
The high-waters of the Danube River will neutralize the impact of Hungary's toxic waste spill, ecologists from Moscow, Chisinau and Kiev agreed on Thursday during a RIA Novosti video conference. One million cubic meters of toxic red sludge flowed from a burst reservoir from an aluminum plant on October 4 in Ajka, Hungary, approximately 160 km (100 miles) west of Budapest. Nine people died ... read more

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