GB No. 3(14)/94
VICTORY! Since 1992, NGOs in Poland have been fighting a proposal made by a consortium of Italian (EMIT, Acqua) and Polish companies to construct a 56,000 tpa MSW incinerator in Warsaw. The issues on which NGOs have been fighting the proposal include the following:
In total, the proposal has violated 9 national and local regulations. Three NGOs--the Waste Prevention Association (WPA), the Green Federation, and the Social Ecological Institute have submitted the case to the Warsaw District Council Court. On September 16, the Court acknowledged the arguments of NGOs and decided that the procedure for deciding on the site of the incinerator and the EIA must be repeated. This is an important decision and sets a precedent which will provide another tool for NGOs to ultimately stop the project, unless it becomes abandoned for financial or administrative reasons. <WPA>
CIBA-GEIGY. In July, Ciba-Geigy opened the largest store of pesticides in Poland. The warehouse "Ciba Magazyn Agro" is located in Warsaw, occupies 30,000 cubic meters, has two railway lines, is fully computerised, and protected(?) against fire and accidental discharges. It is forseen that over 4,000 tonnes of pesticides will be distributed annually from the store to different countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Aleksander Wyrwinski, a member of the company's board, said that "Ciba-Geigy is looking to increase the size of the warehouse. In the future it will be twice as large." <Rzeczpospolita, 1.07.1994>
DRAWERS MADE OF PVC. A French company RHOVYL, based in Tronville-en-Barrois, wants to sell clothesunderwear and sports clothesmade of PVC fibre in Poland. Alan Regad, president of RHOVYL, said that the company has already made contact with a few Polish firms which have prepared samples of fashions to be produced for the Polish market.
RHOVYL hasn't yet applied for a certificate to the State Institute of Hygiene (PZH), which is a legal requirement for new products being introduced on the Polish market and which may have impacts on health. RHOVYL has been producing PVC fibre since the 50's. In the 50's and 60's it produced 13,000 tonnes of fibre, but at the present production has dropped to 4,000 tonnes (although the capacity is 9,000 tonnes). In the past it employed 2340 workers. Now the number of workers has dropped to 100, "because of the automation of the production process." 25 per cent of the production is exported to other countries in Western Europe and Japan. Annual trade turnover is estimated at 120 million FF. Until 1992, RHOVYL was owned by RHONE POULENC. <Rzeczpospolita, 7.09.1994>
RECYCLING OF PET BOTTLES. Despite the proposed ban on the import and construction of new production lines for PET (polyethylene terephthalate) packaging, offers are being made for the setting up of a system for their collecting and recycling.
The first offer appeared a few months ago. The National Fund for Environmental Protection wanted to establish a joint venture with Wellman International Ltd, one of the world's largest plastic recycling companies. They proposed the construction of a plant for melting 5,000 tpa PET bottles in central Poland. There the bottles would be cleaned, melted into bales, and then transported to the Netherlands or to Ireland to the Wellman plant for recycling into fibre. This project has most likely been abandoned because of the problem of organising a central system of collecting PET packaging which would collect enough material for reprocessing. The second offer comes from a Polish company. Chemical Plant "Blachownia" in Kedzierzyn Kozle announced recently that it has developed a method of recycling PET bottles. In order to make the venture profitable, "Blachownia" needs 20,000 tonnes of PET annually. This amount is equal to the yearly production of all Polish enterprises... <WPA; Telegazeta, 26.09.1994>
prepared by Pawel Głuszyński
Waste Prevention Association (WPA)
(Ogólnopolskie Towarzystwo Zagospodarowania Odpadów)
31-829 Kraków 31
For 5 years now, we have opened our economy to the international market. This has made the shelves in our shops full of many different products: colourful, nice, ... very WESTERN. The seeming improvement is mainly because of packaging, not content. Plastic (including PVC) bottles, multilayer "Tetra Pak"-type boxes, aluminum and steel cans -- all of these can be found in shops in Poland. A consumer heaven!
A few years ago nearly 100% of drinks and fluids were delivered to consumers in refillable bottles which could be returned for deposits. And people did bring them back to shops. But it has taken our Parliament more than three years now to create a waste or packaging law. Therefore it is cheaper to produce new glass bottles than to reuse the old ones. In 1992, 35 million PCV bottles, 92 million PET bottles, 51 million cans, and 10 million laminated packages were brought into Poland.
NGOs are trying to change this situation. The two biggest Polish NGOs, the Polish Ecological Club and the network of the Green Federation, are engaged in some local activities to promote waste/packaging reduction and recycling and to reintroduce systems of reuse or support those still in existence. The biggest NGO packaging activity is the all-Poland packaging campaign lead by the European Sustainable Packaging Action Network (SPAN) and coordinated by Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands). Last year SPAN activities in Poland included the European Day of Action, a conference at the Ministry for Environmental Protection where activists presented their demands to introduce sustainable waste management in Poland. Dozens of groups campaigned locally on this issue.
This year as part of the SPAN activities, Polish activists want to prepare a survey of more environmentally-friendly distribution systems existing in Eastern European countries to be published and proposed to local and national governments. At the beginning of next year we will have a regional (Central and Eastern Europe) meeting on packaging to support each other's activities. The Kraków Group of the Green Federation will be a regional coordinator of SPAN.
An interview with Jerzy ¦wieciński, president of MPO (City Cleaning Company) Ltd. in ŁódĽ, March 18, 1994
-What is the firm's attitude toward waste segregation to attain reuse and recycling of materials?
-Selective waste collecting is a good thing. It's good that the city authorities in ŁódĽ have tentatively chosen several places where segregated waste will be collected. This is just a beginning -- there will be three [author's note: actually four] sets of containers: for paper, glass, and metal. But this is connected with recycling. In our country the motto "waste is a material" is far from popular, but it is a good direction to go in. It takes a lot of money and a change in the mentality of citizens and decision-makers. The program of waste management in ŁódĽ is good, but the authorities haven't had enough money to make it work. The plans are great -- they include the creation of a composting plant, a "problem waste" utilization plant, and other projects which are going to get us out of this state of old-fashionedness. Today we are at the stage of carrying litter to the dumping ground and sometimes partial recyling with purchasing centers of recyclable materials. But it's not planned and considered enough -- the people of ŁódĽ are not taking part.
-Do you think that a dumping ground or an incinerator are a solution?
-An incinerator is an accessory solution. Materials are burned, but drinking water, gas, and energy are obtained.
-As well as some pollution.
-Well, of course. For example, Greenpeace groups have proven that in Holland, where there are many incinerators, some chemical substances get into the soil. But on the other hand, in Switzerland there are incinerators, and Swiss people are proud of their clean Alps -- although their standards are not as strict as in ECM countries. I think it's a direction that we should go in in the future and there should be money for it.
-Is your firm ready -- in terms of having the technological and theoretical base -- for such tasks on a large scale?
-The firm can be readied -- documentation can be prepared, equipment can be bought. We've already done some trials in the Widzew-Olechów district, but they took a lot of money and have been given up. Officially, we aren't participating in the program of selective waste collecting, but if we find the funds we will try it in the second half of the year in the Widzew or Bałuty districts. It has to be a compact, clean district, where people can be motivated by information in the media, guide-books, posters, or leaflets. We will work out the documentation and look at the costs -- what we can do ourselves, what help we would need from the city budget.
-And what, in your opinion, is currently the biggest obstacle -- money, or the level of awareness in our society?
-Awareness, I think. Trials in other cities, like Katowice and Kraków, indicated a big problem with awareness. It's also visible in our city -- people drop all kinds of things into the Eko-Service waste paper containers. First we should open peoples' eyes to the problem. For example, if I have three bags in my house and I have to segregate the waste, then I can ask my house steward to decrease the waste disposal fee. If I have to go down the stairs with these bags and place them in the waste bins, then I also shouldn't have to pay as much. I think that in small buildings and one-family houses there shouldn't be big problems. It could be a different situation in big block-houses and communal buildings in general [Editor's note: The waste disposal fee per capita is the same regardless of the number of people in a building, so in large communal buildings people do not have the financial incentive nor perhaps the sense of personal responsibility to sort waste properly].
-Then how would you picture a future campaign for improving awareness?
-It would be very good to use the local cable TV in a district -- lectures could be shown or information provided on teletext. Naturally, schools and young people should be involved in it, as it is in the West. For example, in France children distribute folders, guidebooks, and also little toys like this [he points to a cute, green creature clipped on the desk lamp]. It all takes money, of course.
-Don't you think the local media should participate in this action without material gain?
-Of course. I think your magazine [Zielona ŁódĽ] is a great forum for promoting this action. I heard that local newspapers have declared their intention to take part in this action for free.
-What will the future of recycling look like in MPO -- will there be any system or partial solutions in the near future?
-We are going to do something like this, getting in touch with receivers of recyclable materials, such as glass works. Acting on a large scale we would ask Danish specialists for help -- they would plan the system for us and would instruct us. We would get in touch with a firm with a lot of experience in these matters. On a small scale we will do it ourselves, although our financial standing doesn't allow for quick steps. But it will improve, I think, thanks to new solutions in organization and marketing.
-So we have a chance for a cleaner ŁódĽ?
-Definitely yes, but it will take the positive attitude of people, and time and money too.
Over the weekend of September 16-18, communities all over Poland participated in a garbage collection event. The clean-up was part of an international campaign organized by the community environment group Clean Up Australia in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Each year, "Clean Up the World" coordinates locally-organized community clean-up events. Last year, communities in 80 countries took part in the action. This year, the action was brought to Poland by Mira Stanisławska - Meysztowicz, a Pole who has been living in Australia for over 30 years. Together with the National Environmental Education Center in Warsaw, Stanisławska-Meysztowicz was responsible for translating the campaign materials into Polish, promoting the action, and coordinating local efforts all over the country.
Cleanups involve groups of volunteers who cooperate to tidy up a designated area. People gather in public places like parks, town squares, school grounds, local woods, roadsides, and beaches. Volunteers collect garbage which is then taken away to be recycled or to go to a suitable garbage dump. The organization and promotion of such local actions is also done by volunteers. Often local authorities or NGOs (non-government organizations) are involved, but anyone can take the initiative to start the planning. Clean Up the World provides "How to do it" kits (available in English, French, Spanish, and now Polish), including a guidebook, logo and poster art, and a sample media release. The media can be used to help promote the action. Sponsors are found to provide funds or equipment.
In Poland, sponsors included many well-known Polish and foreign companies as well as the Dutch Embassy, which financed the cost of producing and publishing the guidebook on how to carry out the campaign. Many companies concerned with garbage removal and recycling provided material assistance by making their equipment available. Polish artists also joined the effort: Andrzej Pągowski designed a campaign poster free of charge, and Wojciech Młynarski wrote a song about garbage. Not all sponsors met with praise and acclaim, however. In Krakow, the local Green Federation group staged a protest against the sponsors Coca-Cola, Tetra Pak, and the Polish firm Pack Plast by decorating the statue of beloved poet Adam Mickiewicz in the market square with Coke cans, Tetra Pak boxes, and plastic eating utensils.
Some towns had awards ceremonies for the volunteers involved in the clean-up. In Pruszków, the clean-up was also accompanied by activities such as environmental skits and poster contests for local school children.
"Clean Up the World is a great way to promote the 'think globally, act locally' message. I believe that individuals can make a difference in helping turn around the environmental problems facing the world," says Ian Kiernan, the Australian initiator of the campaign. For more information about how you could help to organize a local clean-up event, contact Clean Up the World, 123 Harris Street, Pyrmont, Sydney NSW 2009, AUSTRALIA; tel (61-2) 692 0700, fax (61-2) 692 0761. Or, in Poland, contact Krajowe Centrum Edukacji Ekologicznej, ul. Dubois 9, 00-182 Warszawa, POLAND; tel./fax: 48/2/635 64 68, 635 11 75.