Although plastics provide many benefits to our daily lives, unfortunately, they never really disappear from nature. For this reason, we should consider plastics as a kind of pollutant in terms of their production and prevent the usage of plastic products and wastes by adopting environmentally-friendly recommendations and integrating them into our lives.
A report on plastic waste prepared by WWF (World Wildlife Fund) emphasizes that the Mediterranean is at risk of becoming a “sea of plastics”. The report titled “Out of the Plastic Trap: Saving the Mediterranean from plastic pollution”, which examines the dimensions of the problem with examples and based on countries, also included what should be done at the international, national, industrial and individual levels to solve this particular problem.
Artwork by Sarah Nelson
The report reveals that the Mediterranean faces severe risks due to excessive use of plastics, inadequate waste management and intense mass tourism. Emphasising that plastic materials still constitute 95% of the waste in the Mediterranean, the report states that large plastic wastes injure or suffocate large creatures such as seals and sea turtles. Furthermore, 65% of the plastic waste that causes the most harm to animals is the fishing line released into the sea.
Most Mediterranean countries delay and fail to complete plastic waste management, causing increasing levels of plastic pollution in the region. Only a third of the 27 million tonnes of plastic waste produced in Europe each year is recycled. Recycled plastics currently only account for 6% of plastic demand in Europe.
The Mediterranean’s key economic sectors, particularly fisheries and tourism, are adversely affected by plastic pollution. Moreover, the possibility of decreasing the number of tourists due to polluted coasts and job losses in this sector also arises.
In 2019, the United Nations declared that most countries worldwide agreed on restricting shipments of hard-to-recycle plastic waste to poorer countries. Thus, 186 countries agreed on limiting plastic usage regarding the Basel Convention’s Plastic Waste Amendments.
Artwork by Emma Lopes
Today, member countries of the United Nations will negotiate the first global agreement on the fight against plastic waste in Kenya’s capital Nairobi between February 28 and March 2, 2022. Accordingly, they will seek solutions for plastic waste spreading to the oceans. Restrictions on the use and production of single-use plastic products worldwide will be the main agenda item of the meetings. This project, which is perhaps the most ambitious initiative in the field of environmental protection since the Paris Climate Agreement, is intended to be implemented in Nairobi.
Artwork by Julio Cesar Arts
Artwork by Valerie Danchesi
Undoubtedly, plastic waste is devastating the environment and destroying wildlife today. Therefore, one of the most significant environmental problems facing humanity today worldwide is the danger posed by plastic waste. This problem can only be solved if all stakeholders work together and collaborate. In this regard, international organisations, companies and governments should work harder, put forward regulations related to the solution of pollution and go to sanctions if necessary.