PLASTIC WASTE?Into the blue bin, away from the blue sea!
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 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.
MIO-ECSDE / medies
The Mediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development (MIO-ECSDE) is a federation of about 130 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 the Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs and runs many ESD projects in Greece and in other Mediterranean countries.
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:
- putting the learner at the centre,
- 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
- enabling transformative action.
As 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.
The project targets selected Greek islands or other coastal regions that face Marine Litter challenges, and entails a plethora of activities including:
- School Visits and interventions by experienced trainers on minimising single use plastic and proper recycling.
- Preparation and production of educational material for students and/or teachers.
- Teacher training workshops.
- Dedicated public sessions in collaboration with the local municipalities.
- Where necessary the project can be combined with field activities (e.g. for beach clean up or monitoring).
The project started in 2019, in three Greek islands, and is continued in 2020, despite the pandemic.
In the pandeminc context, and due to the school lockdowns, the live interventions were transformed to virtual ones. Read more here.
At the begining of the school year 2020-2021 a series of missions and activities took place, amid the pandemic. Read more here.