Every day, thousands of tons of plastic are dumped into the oceans. While a small portion of this waste floats on the surface, the rest disintegrates into microparticles and seeps into the ocean. Dragged along by the marine snow, the microplastic deposits a significant amount of carbon in the deep ocean, which impacts the ocean’s regulatory system. In addition, microplastic is also ingested by many marine species that carry it along the food chain, right up to our plates.
On a global scale, the Mediterranean Sea holds the record for pollution. Indeed, there are nearly 1.25 million micro plastic fragments per square kilometer. The large number of tourists is a considerable part of the problem, since it is estimated that each summer this generates a 40% increase in waste.
Among the initiatives undertaken in the Mediterranean Sea, the association Legambiente coordinates the Clean-up the Med campaign, which organizes numerous beach cleaning operations. During their last edition in May 2022, nearly 500,000 volunteers collected about 800,000 tons of waste on 160,000 km of beaches. These impressive figures demonstrate the strength of the collective and the importance of small gestures which, when put together, have a considerable impact.
In parallel, public institutions also have a role to play and it is most often at the local level that concrete actions are implemented. In Capri, for example, a small island off the Italian coast, the municipality introduced a law in 2019 banning the use of single-use plastic. This decision was unprecedented in European environmental policy and preceded the introduction of a similar, but less strict, law at the European level.