Plastic waste: first predators of the ocean

Following an exclusive study realized on 5 european beaches, we present the findings and analysis of this study in the « Monitoring marine litter accross Europe » report. Based on the OSPAR protocol, this first report gives instructive lessons. 80% of waste are plastic such as plastic bags and bottles, cigarette butts and cotton swabs. This observation will allow the implementation of new solutions for a sustainable and effective battle against aquatic debris.

Download the report

What is OSPAR?

The OSPAR convention (Oslo-Paris), developped by the OSPAR regional seas Convention, is nowadays the main european protocol for the waste collection operations and quantification on beaches. In order to follow the evolution of aquatic waste’s quantity and nature in the environment, it is important to have a common methodology between the different european countries.

According to this protocol, beaches studied must be visited 4 times a year (once per season) and all the items found within the area determined must be collected without exception, then listed and accounted in a sorting grid. It was at first the volunteers of Surfrider Finistère, supported by the Surfrider Bretagne office, who started this monitoring in the Porsmilin beach, this protocol has been replicated on 3 Spanish beaches (Burumendi, Inpernupe and Murguita) as well as on the Basque Country French beach of La Barre. Those first territories were used as pilot areas in order to define a current state and a first analysis of the waste stranded in the Europe coastline.

Report findings

The 2015 data analysis shows clearly that plastics items are numerous and systematically found on the studied beaches. For example, on the La Barre beach in Anglet, in France, in the Basque Country, 94,5% of the debris’ found are made of plastic or polystyrene. In the same way, on the Burumendi beach in Spain, 96,6% of the debris are made of plastic or polystyrene. On the Inpernupe beach, in the Spanish Basque Country, around 30% of the waste found are plastic and almost 50% are glass.

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Acting together

This study has been realized thanks to the financial and technical help of the SUEZ group which supports us for this project.

« To meet the challenge of the ocean preservation, it is necessary to mobilise all the stakeholders involved (political, economic and scientific actors, NGO, citizens) to work together, raise awareness and to change behaviour. Suez, as a long-term partner, is helping Surfrider in the implementation of the OSPAR convention » Jean-Louis Chaussade, SUEZ CEO

Even if we can see that a growing civic, political and industrial awareness is underway and that regulations are going in the right direction (plastic bags, cotton swabs), there is still a long way to go for the future generations to enjoy the ocean without plastic. It is necessary to rethink our consumer society and to take ambitious measures.

Léa Daulan, Environment editor