EU-funded COMMON project launches ‘BEach CLEAN’, a campaign to reduce marine litter on Mediterranean beaches

COMMON project starts a campaign involving beach operators and tourists to strengthen the relationship between our daily actions and the marine ecosystem. Cleaner beaches all over the Mediterranean: a network between Italy, Lebanon, and Tunisia to tackle the marine litter

Launched the BEach CLEAN, an awareness campaign to address the emergency of marine litter on Mediterranean beaches. The initiative stems from the need to protect the beaches environmental heritage and promotes a productive dialogue with the tourist operators and with citizens, starting from the sharing of a decalogue with ten good practices to follow for a correct waste management and to raise awareness of the consequences of waste abandonment.

The ten golden rules proposed in the decalogue, in poster format, will be posted in the main Italian, Lebanese and Tunisian tourist and bathing establishments. Places that generally undergo a remarkably high tourist influx during the summer season, and whose coasts see the percentage of waste beached day after day.

During the summer season, in fact, seaside tourism increases the marine litter issue by more than 40%, so much so that the bad management of urban waste is confirmed as one of the main cause of the waste on monitored beaches, together the lack of purification systems and the bad habit of throwing urban waste into the toilet. To stem the waste emergency on the beaches and, consequently, in our seas, it therefore becomes essential to start from the individual daily actions. A tourist informed on the good practices to be adopted, together with a network of tourist structures aware of the correct waste management, can make the difference.

The campaign was presented on 30 June in Italy by the Non-profit organization Legambiente and is part of the COMMON (COastal Management and MOnitoring Network for tackling marine litter in Mediterranean Sea) an ENI CBC Med project born from a collaboration network between Italy, Lebanon and Tunisia, with the aim to reduce the marine litter in the Mediterranean area.

In particular, the BEach CLEAN campaign, which will last until 30 September, will be launched in 5 different areas of the Mediterranean – the 5 involved in the COMMON project: Maremma and Salento in Italy, Kuriat Island and Monastir in Tunisia, and the Tyre Coast Nature Reserve in Lebanon, with the aim of promoting sustainable and inclusive bathing establishments, places that know how to improve respect for the environment and guarantee tourists and visitors the opportunity to live the beach responsibly.

The marine litter issue has a negative impact on vital economic sectors, from tourism to fishing, causing economic losses to individuals, businesses, and communities, has its roots in land-based activities. The 22 countries in the Mediterranean area, with over 450 million inhabitants, can generate to a maximum of 760 kg of solid waste per capita every year, waste that often lands on the beaches, damaging not only the environmental heritage, but also the biodiversity that the sea guards.

The bathing establishments that will take part in the initiative, in addition to the posting of the decalogue in the tourist places of competence, will be called to take part in a survey, to be completed at the beginning and end of the summer season, aimed at knowing and analysing the health conditions of the beaches overlooking the Mediterranean, and to improve the relationship between tour operators and the ecosystem. A questionnaire will then be dedicated to tourists, to learn about the habits related to their daily waste management and to analyse the main difficulties related to their correct disposal. All interested tourist can tell about their relationship with the sea here: 

In addition, in this summer marked by the emergency and the rules of distancing, sustainable tourism also passes by the correct use and disposal of personal protective equipment, such as gloves and masks, whose abandonment in the environment is increasingly reported even in the coastal areas. The BEach CLEAN campaign aims, among others, to assess the presence of these ‘new wastes’ on the selected beaches, and to raise awareness of their correct management.

The BEach CLEAN decalogue

1. Be a trash bins lover 

Never abandon waste at the beach and be careful to not let it go into the water. The land-based activities are responsible of around 70% of marine litter.

2. Reuse. Reduce. Recycle

The better your separate collection, the better the recycling of waste. If done properly, it can lead to an estimated 35% reduction of marine litter. 

3. Disposable products? No, thanks!

Disposable plates, cutlery, and straws are used for few seconds, but they can pollute for centuries. Say no to ‘single use’: it represents more than half of the beach litter.

4. The sea starts from your toilet 

Nothing should be thrown into the toilet: cotton buds, blister packs of medicines, sanitary towels… The drains could take them directly to the sea!

5. No waste in your shopping list

Buy bulk goods and prefer fresh food or packaged without plastics. Use only eco-friendly bags: plastic bags are one of the most common and dangerous marine waste! 

6. Butts out

Cigarette butts are the forgotten plastic pollution: they contaminate beaches all over the world. Keep your butts off the beach, the sand is not your ashtray! 

7. Manholes, not baskets

Butts, candy wrappers, all kinds of objects: what you throw on the street dirty your city, and is highly likely to end up in waterways and at sea.

8. Drink Green

Use metal or glass bottles instead of plastic ones. In any case, never leave them in the environment. Beware of caps: they are one of the most common plastic waste in our seas!

9. Stop toxic beauty

Do not use cosmetics with microplastics inside. Read the label: if you find, for example, Polyethylene, Polymethyl methacrylate, Nylon, Polyethylene terephthalate, Polypropylene there is plastic inside! 

10. Let’s be an example

Encourage everyone to protect and respect nature. Through your example, influence your child, friends, and family for cleaner beaches and healthier seas!

COMMON (COastal Management and MOnitoring Network for tackling marine litter in Mediterranean Sea), is coordinated by Legambiente, and gathering the University of Siena, the Institut National des Sciences et Technologies de la Mer of Tunisi, the CIHEAM Bari, the NGO Amwaj of the Environment, the University of Sousse and the Tyre Coast Nature Reserve.