The Low Plastic Zone initiative launches in municipalities of Montenegro, Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina to help reduce plastic pollution

Thursday 08 June 2023

UN Regional Activity Center MedWaves and The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH are happy to announce the launch of the Low Plastic Zone (LPZ) Initiative. The LPZ Initiative aims to build a community of forward-looking hotel, restaurant, cafe and bar owners committed to phasing out single use plastic products from their operations and contributing to curb plastic pollution in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Montenegro.

  • Plastic bottles and caps, food containers, bags, packets, and wrappers, as well as cans are among the top 10 litter items most commonly found during clean-ups along the coasts of Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • These products are designed to be used once – often for few minutes, and then tossed away: 1 every 3 single-use plastic products ends up in the sea where it can last for centuries
  • 80% of the plastic litter in the sea comes from land-based activities through rivers and from densely populated coastal areas with inadequate waste management policies and infrastructure
  • Plastic pollution harms the environment and human health, contaminating the seas and soil
  • Three in four people worldwide want single-use plastic products to be banned as soon as possible
  • 82% of people worldwide favour products with less plastic packaging
  • Low Plastic Zone Initiatives have been successfully implemented in other countries leading to important plastic waste reduction while providing financial benefits to the participating businesses and Municipalities.

In response to the plastic emergency, Milieukontakt Albania, CENER21 and GreenHome has partnered with MedWaves and GIZ to implement the Low Plastic Zone Initiative. The Initiative will be launched in three municipalities in Albania (Himara), Montenegro (Kotor), and Bosnia-Herzegovina (Mostar) and then rolled out at national level and expanded to Kosovo towards the end of year.

The Low Plastic Zone initiative aims to encourage and support hotel, restaurant, and café owners to reduce the amount of single-use plastic products handed to customers.

Hotels, restaurants, cafes, and bars heavily rely on cost-effective, convenient, functional, and customer-appreciated single-use plastic products such as straws, cups, bags, and toiletries. Unfortunately, the difficulty in collecting and the tendency for these items to become littered results in significant plastic pollution, diminishing the appeal of coasts, beaches, and cities. Consequently, this pollution can negatively impact visitor numbers, leading to reduced employment, revenues, and increased costs for taxpayers involved in beach and city cleanups.

In light of these challenges, it is crucial for hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, and catering services to assume a proactive role in combating plastic pollution and promoting the circular use of plastics. They can achieve this by reducing the demand for single-use plastic, discouraging non-essential usage, and advocating for the adoption of reusable and genuinely sustainable alternatives.

The growing public awareness of the harmful effect of plastics on the environment and human health has left many feeling worried about the future, frustrated or powerless when seeing the volume of single-use plastic products on display in hotels, restaurants, bars, and cafes. People are trying hard to reduce their use of single use plastic but are frustrated at how difficult it is to avoid them when travelling or eating and drinking on-the-go. Customers, particularly young people, are increasingly choosing businesses that are acting against plastic pollution. At the same time, an increasing number of businesses want to reduce their environmental impact, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it makes business sense. However, businesses often do not know where to start.

The Low Plastic Zone initiative is here to help businesses, residents, and visitors do this.

The Low Plastic Zone is a practical step towards cutting down on single use plastics by showing all viable ways local businesses can tackle the plastic emergency. Businesses can eliminate unnecessary or problematic single use plastic products, switch to reusable cups, bottles, and bags, encourage customers to bring their own containers, get into the habit of not offering and providing only on demand single use products made from safer and circular materials, such as wood. Change is possible, but it requires a shift in mindset, habits, and operating procedures, as well as a strong collaboration and effective communication with suppliers and customers.

Over the coming months, hotel, restaurant, café, and bar owners in the Himara, Kotor and Mostar will be contacted by our experts to assess their current use of single use plastics, discuss available options to reduce or eliminate the use of these products, and help them implement the most appropriate solutions for their businesses.

The Low Plastic Zone Initiative builds on the lessons learned of a pilot phase implemented by GIZ in 2020 and 2021 in five municipalities in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. It also draws on the successes of the Plastic Free Balearics Programme led by the Spanish Foundation Save The Med. In particular, the Low Plastic Zone Initiative has adopted the Honest Alternatives to Plastic Index (H.A.P.I.), a tool developed by Save the Med to help companies reduce plastic use while avoiding greenwashing and false solutions, as well as the Honest HoReCa Guide to Zero Waste developed by Zero Waste Montenegro to offer businesses examples of real and honest alternative solutions to single use plastic products that are available in the project countries.

Often the alternative solutions to single use plastic products available on the market are not truly sustainable despite their green labels and claims. By applying the Honest Alternatives to Plastic Index (H.A.P.I.) and with the support of the Honest HoReCa Guide to Zero Waste, local partners will be able to assess the environmental impact of the single use plastic products in use at each of the participating businesses, objectively comparing them to existing alternative products on the market, and provide a set of feasible options for plastic reduction or elimination and the improvement of the company’s performance.

To join the Low Plastic Zone initiative, businesses will need to complete a self-assessment questionnaire to understand their current consumption of single use plastic products and sign a Declaration of Commitment where they commit to take steps towards the reduction or elimination of a set of single use plastic products. Participating businesses will be provided with the “working to become LPZ” stickers and leaflets to inform their suppliers and clients about their engagement, and will receive tailored support to implement identified solutions, track progress, and communicate achievements to their customers.

Participation in the Low Plastic Zone Initiative is completely FREE.

If interested to join the Low Plastic Zone Initiative, please contact:


In line with the European Commission Directive (2019/904) on single-use plastics, the Low Plastic Zone initiative is a joint effort of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH (LINK) and MedWaves, implemented by national partners in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Montenegro.

The Integrated Waste Management and Marine Litter Prevention Programme in the Western Balkans (MLP), funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, supports four countries to help reduce plastic discharge into the Adriatic Sea by facilitating regional exchange, knowledge sharing and cross-border cooperation.

GIZ is a service provider in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education work, dedicated to shaping a future worth living around the world. GIZ has 50 years of experience in a wide variety of areas, including economic development and employment promotion, energy and the environment, and peace and security.

Preventing marine litter in the Western Balkans

MedWaves is a centre for international cooperation developing innovative solutions addressing shared environmental challenges and based on circular economy and sustainable consumption and production principles. The activities in the Adriatic countries are funded by the  Italian Ministry of Environment and Energy Security through a Cooperation Agreement with the UNEP/MAP in support to the implementation of the UNEP/MAP Mid-Term Strategy 2016-2021.

The centre operates under the legal framework of Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean. MedWaves is based in Barcelona (Spain) and hosted by the Catalan Waste Agency. MedWaves is actively addressing plastic pollution in the Mediterranean through outreach, technical cooperation, and policy work, as well as the development, implementation, and scaling of innovative solutions for businesses.