The European Union generated approximately 11% of the world’s plastic waste in 2010, more than 31 million tonnes. Much of that plastic makes its way to our oceans, polluting beaches, harming marine life and threatening entire food webs. A 2019 survey in the Baltic Sea by Baltic International Trawl caught more garbage than cod.
To stop ocean plastic pollution, we must start at its source: production, particularly of single-use plastics.
In 2019, the European Union adopted a ban on single-use plastic products in an effort to curb plastic pollution.
Under the Single-Use Plastics Directive, items such as plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, and drink stirrers will be banned by 2021, and 77% of plastic bottles recycled by 2025. Between 80-85% of marine litter found on European beaches is plastic.
Oceana campaigns to ensure EU Member States fulfill their promise for our oceans and carry out the plastics directive. We are advocating for Denmark and Spain to lead the way for implementation by campaigning for:
- Denmark to achieve directive best practice provisions to reduce single-use plastics before the deadline.
- Spain to pass national legislation that goes beyond the directive’s minimum standards, reducing Spanish waste from single-use plastics reaching the European seas by 50%.
For over a decade, Oceana has been documenting plastic pollution in our oceans as part of our expeditions, especially at great depths using our ROV, where we’ve seen first-hand how this epidemic is affecting marine habitats and organisms directly. Our research expeditions have shown that for each piece of plastic visible on the surface, there are dozens of pieces hidden in the seabed.
Oceana has documented multiple cases during its latest expeditions around Europe, unveiling the magnitude of a problem that often goes unnoticed due to the technological difficulties of reaching such deep-sea areas. The deep-sea is home to pristine marine habitats, and plastics are now putting this great biodiversity at risk.