According to a new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), some 229,000 tonnes of plastic is leaking into the Mediterranean Sea every year and Bosnia, Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia have the highest leakage per capita.
According to the IUCN, an amount of plastic waste equivalent to more than 500 shipping containers leaks into the Mediterranean daily and this will double by 2040 “unless significant measures are taken to address mismanaged waste,” which it said was the main source of the leakage.
“According to the report, Egypt (around 74,000 tonnes/year), Italy (34,000 tonnes/year) and Turkey (24,000 tonnes/year) are the countries with the highest plastic leakage rates into the Mediterranean, mainly due to high quantities of mismanaged waste and large coastal populations. Per capita, however, Montenegro (8kg/year/person), Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia (each contributing an estimated 3kg/year/person) have the highest levels of leakage,” the IUCN said.
The report found that 94 percent of total plastic leakage results from mismanaged waste and that more than one million tonnes of plastic have accumulated in the Mediterranean Sea.
“Plastic pollution can cause long-term damage to terrestrial and marine ecosystems and biodiversity. Marine animals can get entangled or swallow plastic waste, and ultimately end up dying from exhaustion and starvation. Additionally, plastic waste releases chemical substances such as softeners or fire retardants into the environment, which can be harmful to both ecosystems and human health, especially in a semi-closed sea such as the Mediterranean. As this report makes clear, current and planned measures are not enough to reduce plastic leakage and prevent these impacts,” said Director of IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme, Minna Epps.
“Governments, private sector, research institutions and other industries and consumers need to work collaboratively to redesign processes and supply chains, invest in innovation and adopt sustainable consumption patterns and improved waste management practices to close the plastic tap,” said the head of IUCN’s Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation, Antonio Troya.