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Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Plastic in the Mediterranean Sea

Although the Mediterranean Sea represents less than 1% of the global ocean area, it contains 7% of the total quantity of microplastics. More than half a million tonnes of plastic are discarded into the sea every year, equivalent to 33,800 half-litre PET bottles thrown away every minute – a report published by the WWF on June 8, World Oceans Day, revealed.

The WWF report entitled “Stop the Flood of Plastic – How Mediterranean countries can save their sea” features some alarming figures: each kilometre of the Mediterranean coastline receives more than 5 kg of marine waste every single day.

The most polluted area within the
region is in southern Turkey, but Barcelona, Venice, Tel-Aviv,
Valencia and the Bay of Marseille
are all among the most polluted sections of coast.

More than half the plastic manufactured becomes waste within less than one year of production. Marine waste generates 641 million euros of costs for the tourism, shipping and fishing industries.

Companies around the Mediterranean produce 38 million tonnes of plastic objects each year for sale, but they do not pay the costs of this excessive production of waste. What’s more, making plastic is cheap, so these companies do not endeavour to use recycled plastic or alternative materials instead for their products. Governments and local municipalities still don’t manage 28% of their waste appropriately.

Along with manufacturers, governments and authorities, tourists also have plenty of scope for improvement: they produce more than 24 million tonnes of plastic waste each year in the Mediterranean region, and the amount of waste increases by 30% in seaside cities during the summer.

“Every second breath we take is provided by the oceans, and they also absorb a quarter of the carbon dioxide we emit, so healthy seas are indispensable for our future welfare.
It is our shared responsibility to protect our seas,”

said Alexa Antal, Head of Communication at WWF Hungary.

At seaside resorts, the amount of waste generated increases by 30% during the summer due to tourism Photo: Shutterstock
Further information: BBC

Steroids in the water?

Despite the continuous development of wastewater treatment technologies, the complete removal of synthetic pharmaceuticals using the three-step method currently in use is yet to be achieved. A number of researchers are working to improve the efficiency of the removal of these molecules from the present value of 10 to 30 percent.

EU campaign to clean up beaches worldwide

As part of a campaign launched by the European Union, which culminated on 21 September, International Coastal CleanUp Day, marine waste washed up on beaches is collected in more than 80 countries on all inhabited continents, the European Commission has announced.

The creation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

This astonishing video is about the creation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is twice the size of the state of Texas.

Radioactive water to be dumped in the Pacific Ocean?

On 11 March 2011, Japan suffered a magnitude 9 earthquake, which also impacted the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Since then, more than a million tonnes of radioactive water has been collected from the damaged cooling system of the plant, but the tanks will be filled to capacity by 2022.

The cycle of active pharmaceuticals: from the sewage system onto our tables

The set of problems around pharmaceutical residues is extremely complex: the active compounds that are released can reach not only drinking water but also our food. Luckily, scientists have started investigating the problem, and the development of technologies able to offer a solution is also under way.

Scientists on the trail of pharmaceutical residues

The active ingredients of various medicines are released into the environment with treated and untreated wastewater, and today they can be detected not only in surface waters but also in underground waters and the soil. But what defensive measures can we take against them? Hundreds of research groups are studying that question worldwide.

Thousands of marine mammals perish around UK shores

Data from the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme indicates that between 2011 and 2017, almost five thousand marine mammals were stranded around the shores of the UK.

Food packaging trash covers beaches

Nine of the ten most common types of seaside waste are related to human food and drink consumption.

Medications in the water?

More and more pharmaceutical drugs are sold each year, which, along with their benefits, have their disadvantages, too: some of the active ingredients are discharged from our bodies unchanged and they end up polluting our natural waters. Our current knowledge suggests that this does not carry a significant health risk, but as we do not know the long-term effects of the process, it is a problem for which we must find a solution in the near future, for instance by introducing new technologies.

Awareness-raising popsicles made of polluted water

Three design students in Taiwan teamed up to create the Polluted Water Popsicles project so as to call attention to the increasing level of water pollution caused by the country’s economic growth and urbanisation.

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