11 projects, 8.700 kg of waste collected, more than 200 businesses engaged, 2,276 individuals involved: focus on the achievements of the BeMed-Islands community in 2021

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Beyond Plastic Med (BeMed) supports projects in Mediterranean islands, particularly through a specific call for islands where five projects were selected. In total,26 islands-related initiatives have been supported. Through the capitalisation process implemented by MedWaves and SMILO, a community has been built and animated, with an active participation of 11 projects. Whereas each of them has its own approach and fields of action, commonalities can be found. The joint effort hence provides for interesting results of the community as a whole.

Projects comprising clean up actions, both at beaches and sea, collected around 8.700 kg of waste, out of which 3.700 kg was plastic. For example, the Skopelos Dive Center collected nearly 1.500 kg of plastic waste through dedicated immersions in Sporades islands, Greece, which have been later recycled.

Thus, the projects engaged with more than 200 businesses to advance in the abatement of plastic pollution, particularly with the hospitality sector and cruises. In the case of Plastic Free Balearics, 67 businesses have been certified as “plastic-free”.

In relation to single-use plastic products, 6 projects have researched potential alternatives in their territories. 150 alternatives have been found and promoted throughout the activities, and it is estimated that the work with businesses has prevented nearly 13.000 kg of plastic waste. For example, SMILO researched alternatives using local giant reed, and distributed 35,000 cutlery items to shopkeepers in Hyères islands, south France.


Some projects have also worked closely with public authorities, especially municipalities. In Tunisia, Albania and Croatia city councils adopted 9 legal texts limiting the use of disposable plastics and enhancing waste management. The Municipalities of Stari Grad and Sali (Croatia) have proven great commitment and ambition. After the adoption of municipal decisions, public events under municipal licence are required to include important limitations on single-use plastics and waste management.

Three projects have worked in improving and accessing waste management infrastructure in islands. In Djerba, Tunisia, 48 collection facilities have been set up in public spaces and shops to collect plastic and cardboard. Nearly 3.000 families have access now to infrastructure resulting in the segregated collection of 4.000 kg of waste

Overall, projects have mobilised a great number of stakeholders to raise awareness, build consensus and implement actions in the field. More than 100 meetings took place, gathering 2,276 individuals.

Through the capitalisation process, projects have gained visibility and their results shared in 7 capitalisation events and other communication means. Concerning impact on policies, a policy brief was produced at the occasion of the COP22 of the Barcelona Convention, highlighting the contribution of the community to the achievements of targets set in the updated Regional Marine Litter Regional Plan. The results and lessons learnt were presented in an official meeting of the Convention and participants welcomed the contribution from the BeMed-Island community, and recommended their results and tools for capacity building and peer-to-peer learning.

ZOOM IN: The BeMed Islands community at #MARLICE2022

In May 2022, the community took part in discussions at a major international event dedicated to the fight against marine litter and plastic pollution (MARLICE), held in Seville, bringing together experts, civil society, researchers, policy makers and marine litter practitioners.

Coming back together with the Mediterranean Biodiversity Protection Community (MBPC), the BeMed Islands Community shared transferable practices from several initiatives ongoing in the region. The session took stock of the latest advances on understanding the impacts and ways of monitoring marine litter, and unveiled pioneer actions in coastal areas and islands to help monitor and prevent marine litter generation, including policy, research and field actions in the HORECA sector, market restrictions by public authorities, sea-based sources and waste management schemes.


The session left us with important messages:

  •  The current policy framework at international, EU and Mediterranean levels is fostering an harmonised approach to monitor marine litter and its impacts on biodiversity and habitats but there is still a need to strengthen national capacities to adopt and implement monitoring protocols to obtain a regional perspective based on common bioindicators. There is an uptake on systems for monitoring with UNEP MAP and Barcelona Convention moving forward to harmonise systems, protocols and indicators for all the Mediterranean countries.
  • Harmonising data: MedBioLitter is filling a knowledge gap on the presence of marine litter hotspots and their impacts on marine fauna and flora. Mechanisms to have measures to act in these areas to reduce such pressure and subsequently the impacts on biota need to be ensured.
  •  Indicit project experiences: The harmonization of indicators on marine litter across regions can be transferred with efforts from OSPAR in the Atlantic and IMAP Systems in the Mediterranean
  • ●       Testing and field work experiences: There have been quite some advancements on harmonising monitoring tools. Beach and marine litter assessments in recent years show alarming results going way above the thresholds set by the EU Mediterranean Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).MEDSEALITTER experiences: technology can support efforts in monitoring marine litter but there are still bottlenecks in automation and machine learning algorithms. Furthermore, such technologies, i.e. drones, are feasible when monitoring relatively small areas.
  • Further scientific evidence on the impacts and sources of marine litter require funding support for research and to provide a sound basis for regional policies and measures to be adopted which could address health issues related to pollution and plastics.
  • Prevention, mitigation and reduction measures are being devised at marine protected area level, though marine litter is having impacts both inside and outside protected areas. These experiences have proven a great potential to be upscaled and extended to other areas.
  • The tourist and HORECA sectors are getting engaged in addressing the marine litter challenge by applying solutions related in particular to single-use plastics in coastal areas, waste management measures, and awareness raising among beach users and goers.
  • Working together as communities and across sectors is more effective than working in silos. Engaging civil society actions and the private sector including fisheries and aquaculture can assist in clean up campaigns and in finding solutions to waste becoming marine litter.