HELMEPA coordinates for the 25th year in Greece the International Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday 19th September 2015

Associations, Charity, Clubs, Corporate Social Responsibility, Emissions, Environment, Events, Pollution — By on September 11, 2015 at 7:52 AM

icc-2015-poster-enMarine litter impacts, to a larger or smaller degree, all areas of our Planet. Since 1985, the extent of this problem is brought to the forefront by the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) campaign, an initiative of the evironmental NGO  Ocean Conservancy.

This activity began 30 years ago by an environmentally aware citizen of California and soon developed into a global effort that takes place on the             3rd Saturday of September with the participation of more than 10 million volunteers in 155 countries!

In Greece, the initiative is coordinated for the past 25 years by the Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association – HELMEPA, which is inviting once again this year its Members, cooperating entities and environmentally aware citizens to contribute to this effort by cleaning up their favourite beach and/or part of the seabed. This activity can take place any day between 19th September and 19th October, which is termed as Month of Action for the Marine Environment.

Since 1991, in total 68, 500 volunteers have symbolically cleaned up 1, 500 kilometres of coastline, which exceeds the entire coastline of the Peloponnese! The volunteers have collected and recorded 300 tons of waste, while since 2010, 20% of the collected waste is separated and recycled with the support of the Hellenic Recovery-Recycling Corporation (HE.R.R.Co.).

According to data recordings between 2004-2014, volunteers collected a total of 565, 000 cigarette ends, which correspond to 28, 250 cigarette packs and are by far first on the Top 10 list of marine litter items in Greece.

Top 10 marine litter in Greece(pieces)

2004-2014

1.   Cigarette ends

565, 438

2.   Bottle caps

83, 539

3.   Straws

68, 689

4.   Plastic bottles

63, 210

5.   Aluminum beverage cans

37, 916

6.   Plastic bags

33, 490

7.   Food wraps

19, 851

8.   Plastic container lids

11, 161

9.   Plastic packaging/sheeting

11, 159

10. Plates/cups/cutlery

9, 849

An optimistic sign comes from the decreasing trend of bulky waste items, such as construction material, car parts, useless household appliances etc,    accoring to the recordings of the past 25 years. However, worrying is the wide dispersion of lighter litter items, mainly plastics, which since 2008    steadily feature in the Top 6 list of items and are associated with recreational coastal activities.

Even more worrying is another significant aspect of the problem that has been recorded during the past two years: approximately 30% of marine litter items are fragmentedplastic, foam and glasss pieces, less than 2.5 cm. Especially with regards to plastics, their gradual fragmentation in smaller pieces that contain chemical substances and bioaccumulate through the food-web, contsitutes a threat both to marine organisms and humans.

The International Coastal Cleanup 2015 is an ideal opportunity to express our respect to the country’s marine and coastal environment for all it offers us.  Moreover, the active participation of environmentally aware citizens and stakeholders will provide a hopeful message of collective action and responsibility in response to the great environmental and other challenges of our times.

Those wishing to take part in ICC 2015 may complete the Participation Form in HELMEPA’s website at the following link http://www.helmepa.gr/gr/cleanup.php or may contact the Environmental Awareness Sector, environment@helmepa.gr, tel. (+30) 210-9343088.

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