Beyond Plastic

Lucile Courtial of BeMed looks at the sustainable solutions it is launching together with its partners to develop a plastic-free Mediterranean Sea

Plastic pollution is one of the greatest environmental disasters affecting the Ocean. Once discarded into the natural environment, plastic can take up to 500 years to disappear. Every year, more than 8 million tons of plastic litter is thrown into the Ocean. Drifting between waters, it can be ingested and can strangle or suffocate many animal species. Under the effect of the sun, it breaks into fragments called microplastics that can be ingested by fishes and enter the food-chain with potential impacts on human health.

With more than 3000 billion microplastics, the Mediterranean Sea is the most polluted sea in the world. With this in mind, the Beyond Plastic Med (BeMed) task force was put together during an international conference held in Monaco on the 10th March 2015 to implement concrete solutions for the Mediterranean Sea.

Main objectives are; Supporting and developing a network of Mediterranean stakeholders committed to curbing plastic pollution. Implementing effective and sustainable solutions and supporting the research of novel alternatives. Engaging stakeholders and the public by raising awareness and disseminating best practices.

BeMed was launched by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, with its partners: the Tara Expeditions Foundation, Surfrider Foundation Europe, the MAVA Foundation and joined by the IUCN. It benefits of the support of the Monaco Private Label, the Blue Marine Foundation, the Veolia Foundation and the Fondation Didier et Martine Primat.

As part of its main mission, BeMed launches a call for microinitiatives every year targeting actions that aim to curb plastic in the Mediterranean. The financial beneficiaries of the call are NGOs, local authorities, private companies with less than 20 employees and scientific institutions.

Through its partners, BeMed organises and takes part in different international conferences and workshops on plastic pollution to disseminate good practices and develop collaborations with Mediterranean stakeholders. Namely, a meeting of the laureates of the BeMed’s call for microinitiatives is organised every year during the Monaco Ocean Week to capitalise experiences, share feedback and strengthen initiatives. These events are a milestone in the creation of a Mediterranean players’ network.

BeMed also leads awareness raising events at the occasional , of the Monaco Ocean Week and the World Ocean Day. The aim of these events is to raise among the public and schoolchildren on plastic pollution in the ocean and its consequences for marine ecosystems and human health.

Solutions exist and we have to adopt them. The BeMed initiative aims to mobilise its network of committed partners around the same desire for a plastic-free Mediterranean Sea. It’s time to act now.

• Development of capacity building for associations to curb plastic pollution, Italy
• Organization of awareness raising campaigns to engage the public, Tunisia
• Research and awareness-raising on micro-plastic pollution sources, Greece
• Creation of a network of municipalities committed to curbing plastic pollution, Albania
• Creation of an alternative to single use plastic bags, Montenegro
• Blogging to encourage families to reduce their plastic use, Greece
• Involvement of the public in the location of plastic litter sources through social networks, Cyprus
• Recycling of plastic bags into reusable bags, Morocco
• Support of campsites and holiday resorts to reducing their use of plastic, France
• Involvement in political decision regarding plastic use, Spain
• Organisation of educational activities at sea to raise awareness of schoolchildren, France
• Transmission of knowledge about plastic pollution during water sport trainings, Spain
• Definition of a waste management system to prevent beach and marine litter on beaches, Spain