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No other sea in Europe is as polluted as the Mediterranean, according to Ifremer. SEYLLOU / AFP

According to a study by Ifremer, the Mediterranean is the most polluted European sea. Two hundred thousand tons of plastic are dumped each year, representing more than 60% of the waste present.

The Mediterranean is often reminiscent of a postcard setting, yet these images hide a less paradisiacal reality. Plastic bags, bottles and cans, food packaging ... the Big Blue has become a sea ​​of ​​waste .

The French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer) published, on July 24th, a vast study of monitoring Mediterranean marine litter between 1994 and 2017. The conclusion: the Mediterranean is the most polluted sea of 'Europe.

Up to 300 waste per km2

According to the study, the amount of marine litter has been steadily increasing. " In the 90s, their density fluctuated around 100 waste per km2, " notes Olivia Gérigny, oceanographer at Ifremer center in Toulon and lead author of the study published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin . " Since 2012, this density is rather around 200 waste per km2, with a maximum of almost 300 reached in 2015. Plastic represents more than 60% of this waste. "

The # increased marine waste in # Mediterranean, present on 90% of studied areas and at all depths. These are the results of a study of @ Ifremer_fr conducted over more than 20 years. https://t.co/SJnlCmswyi

Ifremer (@Ifremer_en) July 24, 2019

According to the researcher, this increase can be explained both by the increase in plastic production over the same period, and also by a more systematic census.

No other sea in Europe is so polluted. " In a comparable study in the North Sea, annual densities remained below 50 waste per km2, which corresponds to the minimum values ​​found here, " explains Olivia Gérigny.

Two hundred thousand tons of plastics are thus discharged each year in the Mediterranean, according to Ifremer. The sources of pollution are many: commercial or recreational navigation, fishing, aquaculture, landfills, or industrial or urban areas.

France, the largest producer of plastic waste in the region

On 7 June, the WWF NGO had already published a report on plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea. According to him, France, the leading economic power in the Mediterranean, rejected around 11,200 tons of plastic in the Mediterranean in 2016.

The report also shows that France is the largest producer of plastic waste in the region, among the 22 countries bordering the Mediterranean. In 2016, 4.5 million tons of plastic waste were produced, or 66.6 kg per person, according to the NGO.

Nevertheless, France is not the most polluting country, managing to recover 98% of the plastic produced, according to WWF. At the top of the ranking: Egypt, Turkey and Italy.

Efforts to ban plastics

To fight against plastic waste on beaches, Secretary of State for the ecological transition, Brune Poirson, presented on August 5 a charter comprising fifteen commitments for coastal municipalities, granting a label "beach without plastic"

Awareness-raising, prevention and collection actions consist, among other things, of installing sorting bins on the beaches, water fountains to avoid the use of plastic bottles or to sensitize the shopkeepers located near the beaches. not distribute disposable plastic items.

📌 80% of marine litter comes from the land.

✅ With the charter that the @Min_Ecologie puts at the disposal of the municipalities of the littoral today, they will be able to take up to 15 commitments to preserve their #BeachSansDechetsPlastiques pic.twitter.com/pa1ICLxBXD

Brunette Poirson (@brunepoirson) August 5, 2019

" Even if some measures are a little vague, for example on the issue of monitoring, there are some interesting measures. This charter can encourage elected officials to take action, especially in the run-up to municipal elections , "says Flore Berlingen, director of Zero Waste France. " However, in our opinion, we should go further : ban single-use plastic products, such as disposable cups. "

This charter is in line with the government's "zero plastic at sea by 2025" plan. The European Union has also decided to ban, starting in 2021, disposable plastic products such as cotton swabs, straws, coffee taps, cutlery or plates.

►Also read: [Infographic] How our plastics end up in the oceans