Our shared problem of plastics in the Mediterranean

Africa and Europe are two very close and connected continents and both of them have great environmental concerns, many of them shared. Both continents are working to boost the growth of more sustainable development as the issue of climate change weighs more heavily on our globe. As Africa is dealing with the devastating effects of such things as land degradation and deforestation, Europe is dealing with air pollution and waste management. One of the clearest issues Africa and Europe share, however, is the Mediterranean Sea. The beautiful and picturesque sea that spans Spain, Algeria, Croatia and Egypt, among others.

Sadly, today the Mediterranean Sea is dealing with a relatively new and pressing issue. Plastics. (I should know, I live a 4-minute walk from its shore and plastic is all I see!) According to Francois Galgani, a plastics researcher for over 20 years, this sea has the highest density of plastics in the world. In a new report by the WWF they found that every year, about 600,000 tonnes of plastic enter the sea. That is equivalent to about 563 plastic bottles being thrown into the Mediterranean every second! 

The report also mentioned that 80% of this plastic will return to land within the decade. Some even find its way through the food chain as microplastics in our seafood. Plastics have very long-lasting negative consequences to the health of the biodiversity in the area as well. Plastic kills seabirds, fish and marine mammals in some of the saddest ways. It is known that seabirds commonly accidentally kill their young by feeding them the plastics that they “hunted” out in the wild sea. I myself have witnessed seabirds feasting on floating Styrofoam on the waters of the sea when I was aboard a Sea Shepherd vessel. It was an unforgettable and heartbreaking sight.

Without regard to which continent is more or less responsible for the amounts of plastic in the sea, we know that it will be in any case affecting both Africa and Europe. This means we must tackle it together and that every coast is important for any successful attempts at drastically reducing the plastic leakage into the Mediterranean. That means much more than refusing your plastic straws in the restaurants, but we can at least start there! 😊 In the meantime, I’ll be urging for more regulations in both continents regarding plastic and waste management. Join me!

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Rahel Haile
Sustainability Coordinator
Showing 4 comments
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