An estimated 229,000 tonnes (229,000,000 kilograms) of plastic is dumped into the Mediterranean Sea every year, a figure which could double by 2040 unless ‘ambitious steps’ are taken as soon as possible.
The report ‘The Mediterranean : Mare Plasticum‘ published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), estimates that over one million tonnes of plastic has already been accumulated from 33 countries around the Mediterranean basin.
Egypt (around 74,000 tonnes/year), Italy (34,000 tonnes/year) and Turkey (24,000 tonnes/year) are the countries that release the most plastic into the sea.
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.
Improving waste management, starting with waste collection, has the greatest potential to reduce plastic leakage over time, according to the report. It finds that more than 50,000 tonnes of plastic leakage into the Mediterranean could be avoided each year if waste management were to be improved to global best practice standards in the top 100 contributing cities alone.
Furthermore, the report highlights that bans can be effective interventions if widely implemented – for instance, a global ban on plastic bags in the basin would further reduce plastic leakage by around 50,000 tonnes per year.