Greens from three different countries are congregating at different locations along the Baltic coast today (19 September 2015), in order to clean up beaches and to raise awareness about marine litter. Kiel and Rostock in Germany, Tallin in Estonia and Melnragė in Lithuania are the scenes for this transnational action, which was initiated by Reinhard Bütikofer, co-chair of the European Green Party. The event aims to raise awareness of plastic waste and marine litter.
More than 10 million tons of litter pollute the oceans every year, around 75% of which is plastic, such as carrier-bags, wrappers and bottles. Unsustainable production and consumption patterns, insufficient waste management and a lack of public awareness are widely recognised as the causes of this problem, which is severely affecting Europe's marine species, habitats and ecosystems. According to the European Environment Agency, approximately two fifths of the EU's population lives in a coastal areas, and 23 of 28 Member States have a coastline. It is evident that this is a problem that must be addressed collectively. Citizens play a very important role in tackling this issue, but public institutions must also live up to their responsibilities and play their part. The Greens advocate for this and strongly engage in fighting this phenomenon.
From the event, our Green leaders comment:
Reinhard Bütikofer, Co-Chair of the European Green Party – from the event in Rostock
“Plastic waste in the seas is not just a nuisance, it's a danger. It's a danger that every citizen can do something about by for instance using fewer plastic bags. With our common action on international Coastal Clean-Up Day we want to highlight this issue and we want to encourage European citizens to take action on it wherever they can. Yes we can”
Robert Habeck, Schleswig-Holstein’s energy transition minister – from the event in Kiel
“Plastic waste is a global threat to the oceans and its creatures. The Coastal Cleanup Day is a strong sign that this problem has to be tackled - and will be tackled. The day lives on a broad-based commitment - simply impressive”
Züleyxa Izmailova, Deputy Chair of the Estonian Green Party Eestimaa Rohelised – from the event in Talinn
“The large degree of pollution of the Baltic Sea and it's dead areas have long been a common concern for all of the bordering nations. Some of the fastest and most effective ways of confronting these developments are:
- the introduction of methods for filtering the bioactive substances from the wastewater,
- higher taxation of mineral fertilisers and pesticides,
- encouraging national regulations for organic agriculture and small industry,
- banning free plastic bags in stores and disposable plastic tableware,
- banning microbeads that are widely used in personal care products.
For changing our polluting consumer habits we must increase public attention to the alarming condition of our sea and the devastating consequences it will bring unless we act now!”
Linas Balsys, Chairman of the Lithuanian Green Party Lietuvos žaliųjų Partija – from the event in Melnragė
“The Baltic Sea is the youngest and at the same time – the most fragile sea in the world. All counties from the Baltic Sea region should care more about it. According to the research, about 39% of litter found on beaches is plastic. Here we can find a lot of bottle caps, plastic bags, and plastic food containers and so on. The behaviour of consumers is the biggest problem regarding plastic pollution and we have to solve it. We need to increase awareness not only about the use of plastic bags but also about micro-plastics that are not seen very well but it can be harmful for the biodiversity. A new directive on packaging and packaging waste is the right tool to decrease plastic pollution in Europe and it should be implemented by the national parliaments as soon as possible”.