Burning of green waste gets banned in more and more settlements

There is a strong correlation between air pollution and the severity of viral respiratory diseases, therefore, the coronavirus epidemic makes it even more urgent to reduce green waste burning than in previous years. As a result of recent scientific findings and public action, these fires are being banned in more and more municipalities across the country.

“The whole valley is flooded with smoke, all the way to the neighboring village, because many people are burning garden waste. What can be done?” “We can't even open the window, there is smoke all over the street.” In recent weeks, a number of similar complaints about green waste incineration have been received by the Environmental Advisory Office of Clean Air Action Group. As early spring gardening began, burning of huge amounts of plant waste started causing harmful smoke country-wide — and not only where local decrees allow such burnings. This year, the same period coincides with the declaration of the emergency due to the coronavirus epidemic, during which a healthy environment will play a particularly important role, as it is easier to survive the epidemic in clean air. Frequent ventilation, that is recommended by the National Center for Public Health, can only be effective when the air outside is smokeless.

With regards to these factors, Clean Air Action Group and two other NGOs issued a joint statement urging a ban on garden waste incineration. Based on their call, the National Association of Local Governments (TÖOSZ) addressed letters to more than 1,600 mayors, followed by several successes: the burning of garden waste was banned with immediate effect in Csobánka, Etyek, Gárdony, Halásztelek, Kistarcsa, Mende, Nyíregyháza, Szigetszentmiklós and Zsámbok. Positive feedback is also received from other settlements. Dr. Gyula Bándi, the Green Ombudsman, issued a warning, with reference to the aforementioned study of the three NGO’s.

Public support for banning the burning is well illustrated by the fact that 666 people (92 percent) out of 721 voted in favor of the ban in Halásztelek (with 4,000 inhabitants) during a social media vote of just two days.

Katalin Tarr, head of the Environmental Advisory Office of Clean Air Action Group, said: “More people than usual have recently been asking for help to facilitate the elimination of green waste burning in their community. For them, we recommend that if they experience such burning, they first try to dissuade the burner from doing so, by distributing the information of the Hungarian Network of Eco-counselling Offices (KÖTHÁLÓ) and the poster of the Clean Air Action Group or TÖOSZ to as many local residents and institutions as possible. They should join forces with other residents who oppose the burning, as did the residents of Dunakanyar, for example. They should ask the municipality to ban incineration of green waste (if it has not already done so) and to take firm action against those who break the ban, and also to help provide a solution to green waste management by promoting composting, organizing the transport of green waste and using community tools (such as branch mills).”

Photos:

Green waste and other rubbish are burned in the cemetery of Vác

Érd was shrouded in smoke in March due to the burning of green waste

 

Translated by Gábor Lakos