700,000 tonnes plastic waste created every year in Greece and 11,500 tonnes reaches the seas

The failure of the Mediterranean countries to manage their plastic waste inevitably leads to the recording of record levels of plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea, costing hundreds of millions of euros a year to the region’s economy, according to a new WWF report entitled “Stop the Flood of Plastics : How Mediterranean Countries Can Save Their Sea “(” The Mediterranean Countries Can Save Their Sea “).

This analytical report, which is being published in view of World Ocean Day (June 8th), examines the plastic management system applied by all Mediterranean countries, while assessing their performance in tackling plastic pollution. Producers’, authorities’ and consumers’ failures and responsibilities are found at every stage of the process, and the data compose the image of an extremely inefficient, costly and polluting plastic waste management system operating across the Mediterranean.

In particular, according to the report, every year, 570,000 tons of plastic end up in the Mediterranean – it’s like putting 33,800 plastic bottles a minute at sea. Plastic pollution is expected to continue rising rapidly over the next few years, while plastic waste production in the region is estimated to quadruple by 2050. Greece produces about 700,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year, and it is estimated that almost 11,500 tonnes per year in the Greek seas.

The WWF report also contains a detailed roadmap for Greece, which reflects the current situation in the country and describes policies and initiatives that need to be implemented as a matter of priority in order to move the country towards a viable, cyclical economy with zero plastic waste. The Roadmap identifies many delays in the implementation of measures for the management of plastic waste and suggests initiatives that the State should take, such as the ban on the use of unnecessary plastics (eg cutlery, straws), the creation of a separate recycling stream for plastic waste and imposing sanctions on businesses that do not take responsibility for the plastic waste they produce.

“The situation in Greece is just as disappointing. Each year, our country produces about 700,000 tonnes of plastic waste or, otherwise, 68 kg of plastic per capita. It is estimated that about 11,500 tons of plastic waste end up in the Greek seas a year, while almost 70% of it returns back to the Greek coast. There is no waiting time, as plastic waste has already flooded the environment and our own life. Now is the time to take drastic measures to ensure clean seas and a future free of unnecessary plastics, “says Achilles Piltaras, WWF Greece’s awareness manager.

Additional factors that intensify plastic pollution:

-Medical firms have 38 million tons of plastic products every year on the market, but their contribution to the management of plastic waste is still not effective. Moreover, due to the low cost of “virgin” plastic, they do not invest in the design of new products based on the reuse, reduction or replacement of “old” plastic.

Coastal activities account for half the amount of plastic entering the Mediterranean every day, and as the survey notes, every kilometer of coastline accumulates more than 5 kilos of plastic. The coastal areas with the highest pollution rates include popular tourist destinations such as Barcelona, ​​Tel Aviv, Valencia, the Gulf of Marseilles and the coasts of Venice, while the first Cilician occupy the first in the pollution of plastic waste.

– Problems in the management of plastic waste in the Mediterranean are considerably worse by tourism, according to the report, as tourists in the summer increase waste production by 30% in many Mediterranean coastal regions. In particular, in Greece, tourism increases plastic waste by 26% during the summer period, resulting in a cost of management of 4-8 million euros.

– Governments and municipalities still do not manage solid waste properly. Waste is not collected but is illegally landfilled in landfills or illegal landfills, with increased likelihood of leakage into rivers and the sea [i]. Landfills and incineration remain the main methods of plastic waste management throughout the Mediterranean.

In Greece, most of the plastic waste ends up in the landfill, due to difficulties in collecting and managing waste, and 6% is estimated to eventually leak into the environment. Although in our country there is a legal framework for limiting plastic pollution, its implementation is problematic due to pressures from stakeholders and lack of training and information.

Similarly, the situation in the Mediterranean is further exacerbated by the fact that many of the countries already having problems with waste management are importing large quantities of plastic waste [ii].

With regard to the recycling of these wastes, only a few Mediterranean countries have shown satisfactory results. In Greece, Turkey and Tunisia, it is estimated that 50% of the waste collected for recycling is contaminated with non-recyclable waste, making the plastic recycling process difficult.

Based on the above, plastic waste does not only affect the marine environment but also the economy, as it costs about 641 million euros each year in the tourism, fisheries and maritime sectors of the Mediterranean. In particular, Greece’s economy is estimated to lose 26 million euros a year due to plastic pollution.

In this context, WWF urges governments in the Mediterranean countries to jointly support a global legally binding agreement to eliminate the leakage of plastics to nature by 2030. Public authorities, industry, but also citizens are also necessary to unite their strengths in building an innovative and cost-effective plastic management system.

source – tornosnews.gr

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full screen report here 

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