Almost all citizens of Serbia, 99.7% of them, fully or partially agree that the use of single-use plastic is problematic for the environment and human health, according to research by the Center for Environmental Improvement on citizens’ attitudes and habits regarding single-use plastic.

Citizens see the introduction of a deposit system with monetary compensation, taxation of plastic that cannot be recycled or reused, and a stricter penal policy for entities and individuals who do not respect laws in this area as an effective solution in the fight against single-use plastic, according to a survey presented on the 30th. August, which was conducted in June among 1,014 citizens of Serbia.

The research was conducted as part of the “Plastic Civilization” project, which is implemented by the Center for Environmental Improvement, as part of the “Green Incubator” project of the Belgrade Open School, with the financial support of the European Union and the “Friedrich Ebert” Foundation.

About 82% of the respondents consider the most problematic type of single-use plastic to be “suspension” plastic bags and PET bottles, followed by custom-made plastic grocery boxes (32.35%).

The research also showed that the respondents’ level of information about the harmful effects of plastic is at a satisfactory level.

More than half of the respondents stated that microplastics, which enter the food chain of all living beings, are the biggest problem associated with the use of plastic, while more than 40 percent believe that it is a long period of decomposition.

Only 0.30% of the surveyed citizens of Serbia think that plastic is not an environmental problem.

However, research shows that citizens are poorly informed about which types of plastic can be recycled.

Only every fourth respondent is familiar with the fact that not all types of plastic can be recycled, the research showed.

The lack of trust in the existing plastic disposal systems for recycling, which negatively affects the motivation of citizens, was rated as worrying – more than 60% of respondents indicated that they would regularly separate plastic waste for recycling if they were sure that the waste was actually being recycled.

Almost 95% of respondents fully or partially declared that they have no problem using an alternative to plastic bags, while around 45% of them confirmed that they always carry a bag when they go shopping.

However, almost nine out of ten citizens, who do not always carry a wallet, reported that they “regularly” forget to bring a wallet with them when shopping, and that they would carry it when someone reminded them (53.41%) and when the price went up plastic bags in the store (23.84%).

When asked what they do with the plastic bags that remain after shopping, three quarters of respondents said that they reuse it for something else – most often as a garbage bag, they reuse it for shopping (42.11%), while they throw it in the garbage (15 .88%), and almost 10 percent said to separate it and put it in the bin for plastic waste, although the practice of separate collection and recycling of plastic bags does not yet exist in Serbia.

The survey also showed that almost 95% of citizens fully or partially support the introduction of the deposit system and consider it a desirable solution for reducing the amount of PET packaging.

The introduction of deposits for PET packaging is fully acceptable for all age categories, and it is the highest in the age category of 35 to 39 years with almost 98% support.

When asked about the monetary amount of the deposit, more than a third of respondents said that the amount should be greater than 10 dinars, while every fifth citizen believes that an amount between six and eight dinars is desirable.

The Center for Environmental Improvement stated that from the research it can be concluded that the citizens of Serbia have a solid level of awareness of the harmfulness of single-use plastics in a broader sense, but that it is necessary to work on further informing and educating the public in order to continue building a society that actively participates in the fight against single-use plastics.

They also believe that it is up to the state authorities and decision-makers to hear the voice of citizens and resolutely implement the introduction, implementation and regular control of compliance with regulations that are becoming the standard for single-use plastic management worldwide.

Also, constant promotion of life with as little disposable plastic as possible and rational use of products made from alternative materials is necessary.

They also emphasized that it is important to restore trust in the system of primary selection, recycling and waste management through further creation and enabling of waste disposal infrastructure, but also more efficient and transparent operations of all actors in the waste management chain in Serbia.

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