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Clean up campaign held around the country

Ljubljana/Maribor/Novo mesto, 15 September - Volunteers across the country are collecting rubbish on Saturday as part of the campaign Clean Up Slovenia, Clean Up the World. However, first estimates show fewer turned up than in such campaigns in the past.

Ljubljana
Clean Up Slovenia campaign.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Ljubljana
Clean Up Slovenia campaign.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

This year, volunteers are picking rubbish not only at illegal dump sites, but also in areas around rivers and lakes, on the coast, and at other critical points.

Katja Sreš from Ecologists without Borders, the NGO behind the event, said there appeared to be less rubbish than in the past campaigns, but the main problem remained construction waste and scattered packing waste.

Dealing with the problem of construction waste, which represents about half of the waste dumped illegally, and the packaging which is lying everywhere, will take more effort in the future.

She said that the building problem would have to be addressed by raising the awareness that everyone has a right to take building waste to collection centres, mostly free for quantities of up to one car trailer, as well as by fining those who dump them in nature.

The packaging waste problem is more complex. "The products are increasingly packaged, and the packaging is increasingly complex in structure. This represents problems for accurate separation. A lot of effort will have to be invested in how to separate them," Sreš said.

More than 70% of Slovenian municipalities have joined the clean-up project, but initial estimates indicate that fewer people have joined in that in past campaigns.

Sreš said the main reason was that there was now much less rubbish lying around and that people had taken part in clean-up campaigns traditionally held across the country each spring.

In some municipalities, volunteers are also planting trees, and giving benches and children's playgrounds a face-lift. Many people have organised themselves to clean up around their homes.

The campaign is supported by more than 80 partners and supporters, with many celebrities and companies among those who grabbed trash bags and gloves to pick up rubbish today, including Environment Minister Jure Leben and MEP Igor Šoltes.

"The goal of the campaign is not to break turnout records, but to raise the awareness that the first day after the campaign already is important," the NGO said.

As early as next week, Ecologists without Borders will focus intensively on the projects, campaigns and initiatives that will contribute to less waste in the long run.

They will start a campaign targeting five most problematic single-use plastic products, explore types of plastic and recycling processes and other initiatives focusing on target groups.

Ahead of today's campaign, Ecologists Without Borders called on everyone to take part by cleaning their surroundings and report illegal dump sites they come across.

There are over 10,000 such sites already recorded in Slovenia, and it is presumed that they contain enough rubbish to fill 92 Olympic swimming pools. Most of the waste, about 40%, is construction waste.

In line with an international initiative for making companies accountable for the waste they generate, participants in the campaign are invited to keep track of the labels of the waste they find.

This year's clean-up is supposed to be the last one, because the goal is for the mindset to change to keep the country clean.

To raise awareness, Ecologists Without Borders also reached out to primary schools from all over Slovenia, whose pupils used waste to make a sign saying One Last Time.

In two previous similar campaigns in 2010 and 2012, more than half a million people in Slovenia collected almost 20,000 tonnes of waste. The army and police also took part along with other state institutions.

The Slovenian clean-up is part of the global World Clean Up campaign that will bring together millions of people in over 150 countries.

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© STA, 2018