The results of European Cleanup Day 2014 in Greece

Associations, Charity, Environment, Oil Spill, Pollution — By on June 18, 2014 at 3:20 PM
Map of cleanup areas in Greece

Map of cleanup areas in Greece

It comes as no surprise that the findings of recent clean-up activities undertaken reveal yet again that cigarette ends, plastics and every kind of litter item related to recreational pursuits are at the top of the list of items collected! A positive outcome, however, was the keen enthusiasm with which young and old responded to HELMEPA’s call for participation in the European Cleanup Day across Greece, which took place for the first time this year on Saturday, 10 May.  

More than 5, 000 volunteers organized 130 beach, underwater, riverbank, lake-side, forest, park and other natural area cleanup activities throughout the country. Covering a distance amounting to 70km, a total of 8 tons of litter was gathered, of which 2 tons (25%) constituted recyclable materials and so was taken to the appropriate Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corporation facilities for processing.

It was primarily children and youths, members of the “HELMEPA Junior” and “HELMEPA Cadets” Programs respectively, who made their dynamic “presence” most forcefully known, as they descended on the various activities organized. The following groups also dominated the “frontline”; students and teachers from public and private schools, parents and friends associations, University and Merchant Marine Academy students, HELMEPA member-companies, Embassies, Coast Guard and Local Authorites, environmental organizations, various associations, citizen initiatives, sailing clubs and divers.

The participation from the Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Northern and Southern Aegean and Peloponnese regions, was also particularly robust.

Volunteers meticulously recorded the items of litter they collected on special Data Sheets, which HELMEPA provided. Useful conclusions regarding the quantities, types and origins of litter that pollutes the environment arise from the analysis of these Data Sheets.

The top 10 litter items found (pcs)

Cigarette ends

8, 508

Plastic bags

3, 673

Pieces of plastic < 2.5cm in length

3, 672

Plastic bottle caps

3, 222

Straws

2, 805

Plastic bottles

2, 652

Pieces of styrofoam < 2.5cm in length

2, 316

Aluminium soft drink cans

1, 830

Food packaging

1, 686

Plastic container lids

1, 620

Total

31, 984

The presence of many plastic items in the top 10 is troubling. More explicitly, more than half the litter items in the top 10 are plastics, which comprise a significant threat to living organisms. The time taken for plastic litter items to dissolve in the environment ranges between 10 and 600 years, while once they have broken-up they continue their journey as microplastics and bioaccumulate in living organisms through the food chain, releasing the various chemical substances they contain.

It so seems that HELMEPA’s message is timeless! Let’s all therefore remember during this summer yet again “No more garbage, no more plastics on our Seas and Beaches!”

HELMEPA warmly congratulates all volunteers for their participation and thanks the local stakeholders, teachers, School Directorates and companies for their cooperation in implementing the various activities, as well as HE.R.R.Co. and the Marine Environment Protection Division of the Ministry of Shipping and the Aegean for their invaluable support.

All coordinators of the activities and the students who took part were awarded a Commemorative Certificate of Participation by HELMEPA.

For further information, please contact HELMEPA’s Environmental Awareness Section on tel: 210 9343088 or email environment@helmepa.gr.

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