PLASTIC WASTE?

Into the blue bin, away from the blue sea!

THE PROBLEM

Plastic, although necessary and useful in many aspects of our lives, has adverse effects if we do not handle it properly. Plastic waste has negative impacts on organisms and ecosystems, but also on human well-being, especially in countries like Greece that base their economy on tourism and fisheries.

Up to 80% of wastes found in seas and coasts can be plastic, coming mostly from land-based sources. Single use plastics now account for ~50% of marine litter recorded on the European coasts. Moreover, concern about microplastics and their impact on the environment and human health is increasing. 

The opportunity

The European Union, within its broader SDG and circular economy agenda, and its more specific regulations strongly encourages reusing, recycling and repairing practices, aiming first and foremost to reduce the quantity of waste generated.

In the recent (2019) Single Use Plastics Directive, a combination of measures is proposed, including inter alia, bans, innovative product design, extended producers responsibility, labelling requirements, etc. Among these measures, education and sensitisation of consumers on the impacts of single use plastics, as well as on their proper disposal are considered critical.

 

partners

MIO-ECSDE / medies

the Mediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development (MIO-ECSDE) is a federation of 128 Mediterranean NGOs working to protect the environment and the cultural heritage in countries of the Euro-Mediterranean.

Launched in 2002, the long-standing education initiative of MIO-ECSDE called  “MEdIES” (Mediterranean Education Initiative for Environment and Sustainability), is an international e-network of formal and non-formal educators engaged in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). It is approved by Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs and runs many ESD projects in Greece and in Mediterranean countries. 

HERRCO

The Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corporation (HE.R.R.Co) constitutes a successful example of collaboration among the packaging producers placing their products in the Greek market, the packaging importers and the local authorities of the country, who are legally bound for the collection of municipal waste.

Operating since 2001, HERRCO today proudly serves 96% of the Greek population in collaboration with 93% of the local authorities. The Blue Bin, and more recently the Blue Bell (for glass), are recognisable elements of the urban and rural landscape, having gained the acceptance of both citizens and businesses as an effective way of recycling packaging. In 2018, there were 165,000 Blue Bins, 8,800 Blue Bells and 519 vehicles collecting packaging material throughout Greece, always in collaboration with the municipalities.

scope & objectives

The project aims to sensitize students, teachers and citizens of selected Greek Islands on marine litter with an emphasis on single-use plastics and to stimulate a behavioural shift away from the single-use mentality, combined with effective daily recycling practices.

Specific objectives of the project are:

  • To raise awareness of students on the state and impact of marine litter, especially plastics, as well as proper recycling;
  • To train and enable the teachers to integrate the subject of marine litter threats and recycling into their teaching;
  • To inform the local communities on the proper management of household waste especially plastics;
  • To motivate all of the above to undertake responsible actions including avoiding single-use plastics, reusing, screening at source, proper recycling in the Blue Bin, joining cleanups, etc. at a household, school and community level;

In the long run the project is expected increase the quantities of recycled materials and to reduce the landfilled waste on the islands.

the ESD umbrella

The project applies extensively the principles and methods of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), in:

  • being learner-centred,
  • applying hands-on apporaches,
  • being inquiry-based,
  • treating its themes in an interdisciplinary manner,
  • linking the local to the global,
  • adressing equally knowledge, skills and attitudes
  • cultivating critical thinking,
  • allowing self-reflection,
  • motivating learners to act as ‘multipliers’ of its key-messages
  • leading to transformative action.

Being an ESD project, its ultimate vision is to cultivate the responsible, environmentally literate active citizen who takes informed decisions and committed action in line with the principles of sustainability.

activities (2019) 

The project started in 2019, being implemented in three Greek islands. It is expected that it will continue in more Greek Islands in 2020.

  • February -April: Development of the educational intervention for schools. Submission for approval to the Greek Ministry of Education.
  • May-June: Authoring and printing of a poster distributed to the students (Accessible here in Greek in PDF).
  • September – October:  Preparation of the educational props needed for the intervention.
  • November – December: Missions of MEdIES staff to Lefkada, Paros, Antiparos and Rhodes Islands. Our targeted interventions in primary and secondary schools, engaged a total of more than 2,500 students, our four teachers’ seminars trained a total of more than 80 teachers and the three public events reached a total of more than 100 citizens.

The evaluation of the educational programme intervention in the schools gave very positive and encouraging results with the average satisfaction of students at 90%. All the educational activities (schools visits and teachers seminars) were organized in collaboration with the ESD Regional Officers of the Ministry of Education while the public events were organised in cooperation with the local municipalities.

students’ commitments through pledges and drawings

 

I commit myself to stop using excessive plastic items that cannot be recycled, to re-use them where I can, and to recycle.

class, island

I commit myself to avoid the single-use-plastics, to produce less waste, to collect litter and to recycle!

class, island

I commit myself, to collect, recycle, reuse, and talk to others [about recycling].

5th grade, Rhodes Island