The ban on single-use plastic products introduced in Hungary last year has yielded significant results, the daily Magyar Nemzet said on Tuesday, citing the state secretary for the development of circular economy, energy and climate policy.
Attila Steiner said most companies’ stocks of single-use plastic products had run out since the ban entered force on July 1, 2021. Retailers have adjusted to the changes well, switching from plastic bags to bio-degradable materials, with many paper and catering companies introducing paper plates and wooden cutlery.
“Online surveys show that people agree with the restrictions and … have found alternative solutions,” he said.
Discarded plastic bags have a noticeable impact on the environment, and an initiative dubbed Let’s Clean the Country and an application for revealing illegal waste dumps has been introduced to address this problem, he said.
Legal restrictions combined with schemes including a waste collection scheme dubbed You Pick it Up are especially effective in leading to a cleaner environment, he added.
In line with European Union restrictions, since last July manufacturers and retailers have been obliged to better inform buyers about the environmental impact of plastics and waste collection, he said. This has been enhanced by a registration system introduced in January which can monitor how these obligations are being kept, he added.
The government allocated 10 billion forints last year to help companies make technology upgrades, and an information portal has been set up at www.vali.hu to assist them in applying for funding, he said.
Parliament approved the main directives for reforming waste management last year, an important element of which is the recycling of plastic and glass containers for drinks and metal cans. In response to an online survey which showed that people would support the introduction of harsher penalties against illegal waste, the government has also started preparing a new system to address this issue, he added.
Steiner said that shaping public opinion is key to achieving change, and he welcomed the responsiveness of children to positive related messages.