WWF report looks at plastic waste problem in Europe
In the last few years, the EU has vowed to get tougher on single-use plastics. According to its research, over 150,000 tonnes of plastic is disposed of in European seas and oceans annually, and it has outlined plans to address the problem.
Further to this, there is new evidence from the WWF that the issue of plastic waste “goes up 40%” during the summer months, and 87% ends up in nature, mostly in the seas.
The WWF report went on to note that the Mediterranean has one of the highest levels of pollution in the world when compared to other seas. It contains around 7% of the world’s microplastics, despite only having 1% of the world’s water.
Plus, Europe is the second-largest producer of plastic in the world, second only to China. It’s estimated that it produces around 27 million tonnes of plastic waste a year. Only 10% of this is recycled.
A team working in the Aegean Sea, off the island of Andros in Greece, described the sea as a “gulf full of plastic corals”. One volunteer diver said: “It was a very scary thing to see It really shook me and I think it really shook everyone who saw it.”
According to the WWF, between 150,00 and 500,000 tonnes of plastics end up in European seas every year. This ends up being eaten by fish and by humans. The WWF said that the average European ends up eating around five grams of plastic a year.
It also estimates that, by 2025, the problem will be worse, with the seas containing a metric tonne of plastic for every three fish.
But can Europeans go without plastic?
Greenpeace says that in order to reduce plastic waste, there are steps that consumers can take. For example, by planning shopping trips and taking bags, or by avoiding products with lots of packaging. Additionally, consumers can make sure they recycle plastic properly, and try and opt for items that have reused packaging where possible.