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PLASTIC

© © naturepl.com / Jordi Chias / WWF

We want to stop plastic from ending up in the sea. And we mean to act fast.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Nobody wants to see plastic littering their favourite Mediterranean beach. But the visual impact of plastic pollution is just the tip of a large and deadly iceberg.

As much as half a million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the Mediterranean Sea each year – and can remain there for decades or even centuries. Less visible but even more insidious are the tiny particles known as microplastics, which reach record concentrations in the Mediterranean with
1.25 million fragments per square kilometre.

Few animals escape the impacts of plastic pollution. From getting trapped in abandoned fishing nets and packaging to ingesting plastic bags and cigarette ends, the consequences for marine mammals, seabirds, turtles, fish and invertebrates are often fatal. Meanwhile, microplastics and the toxic contaminants that attach to them are accumulating within marine food chains and affecting a large range of marine species with worrying health consequences for them and for people who eat seafood.

Did you know?

134 Mediterranean species are known to have ingested plastic, including 60 species of fish, all 3 species of sea turtle, 9 species of seabird and 5 species of marine mammal.

© Shutterstock

WHAT WE’RE DOING

At a global level, WWF is pushing for a UN treaty to eliminate plastic leakage into the sea. We’re also advocating for tighter measures against plastic pollution in the Mediterranean through the Barcelona Convention and EU and national policies – like bans on certain single-use plastics and binding targets to improve waste collection.

As a society, we need to fundamentally rethink our relationship with plastic. We want people to take action to reduce their own use of throwaway plastics, and put pressure on the public and private sector.

We’re working with islands and cities that can become models for others by demonstrating how to eliminate plastic pollution. We aim to have at least six “plastic-free” Mediterranean coastal cities and/or islands by 2021.

Businesses also have an important role to play. In particular, we’re targeting the tourism sector, and working to eliminate and clean up plastic pollution from fisheries.

Stop the Flood of plastic

Every year, 0.57 million tonnes of plastic enters Mediterranean waters - the equivalent of dumping 33,800 plastic bottles into the sea every minute. Plastic pollution will keep growing, with plastic waste generation in the region expected to quadruple by 2050. WWF's new report shows that Mediterranean countries’ comprehensive failure to manage their plastic waste is significantly contributing to record-levels of plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea and costing the regional economy hundreds of millions of euros each year. 

READ THE REPORT

We want to see a legally binding global deal supported by strong national policies to stop any plastic leaking into the Mediterranean and the ocean by 2030.

© Milos Bicanski / WWF-UK