Expected to quadruple by 2050, waste mismanagement in Mediterranean countries stands at an alarming rate.
Rabat – The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) released its latest report on Friday, June 7, giving notice of the dangers facing the Mediterranean Sea on the occasion of the World Ocean Day, celebrated on June 8.
In a 46-page report, the WWF has sounded the alarm of the ecological degeneration awaiting marine life over the next three decades as plastic waste is on the rise due to the failure of waste management policies.
The report shows that 0.57 million tonnes of plastic (33.800 bottles per minute) enter Mediterranean waters every year.
According to WWF, the Mediterranean region ranks fourth largest in terms of plastic production, with plastic waste standing at 24 million tons each year. The high level of plastic production is driven mainly by tourism.
Studying 22 Mediterranean countries, the report claims that the alarming rate at which pollution grows is due to mismanagement of waste by Mediterranean countries, which ends up either illegally dumped in open areas or buried in landfills.
Morocco’s Waste Management
In 2016, the report indicates, Morocco’s mismanaged waste stood at 0.43 million tons, representing 1.2 % of the overall 17.5 million tons the region produces. Another issue faced by Morocco lies in the volumes of imported waste it receives.
However, Morocco remains relatively low compared to countries like Egypt, which appears first on the list of countries with a high rate of waste mismanagement and accounts for 43.1% of waste.
Italy, which tops the list for plastic production, generates 21% of the overall 37.81 million tons of waste produced.
The WWF notes that Morocco, along with France, Croatia, Italy, Tunisia, Greece, and Turkey, has taken a positive step by banning the production, sale, and use of non-biodegradable plastic bags in 2015.
With more than 40% of its waste production dumped, Morocco, unlike France, Italy and Greece, imposes no landfill and waste dumping taxes. WWF recommends waste dumping taxes, saying it is an “effective method to financially disincentivize landfills as waste management option.”
The future of the Mediterranean marine life
The organization notes that the bulk of the plastic waste, which is estimated at 247 billion pieces littered at sea, is expected to quadruple by 2050, taking its toll on aquatic wildlife, natural systems, and marine food chains.
Furthermore, the report also shows that 80% of the marine plastic in the Mediterranean will find its way back to land within a decade. This will contaminate the coastlines and have a more damaging effect on the so-called Blue Economy (tourism, maritime trade, and fisheries), which represents 6% of the region’s GDP.
Tourism, which makes up three-quarters of the current Mediterranean Sea economy, maritime trade, and fisheries currently lose an estimated $641 million each year.
Addressing the root causes of growing plastic pollution, the organization asserts that the plastic life-cycle results from failure to hold accountable parties responsible.
This failure can be attributed to a combination of plastic production companies, citizens’ neglectful use of plastic, waste collection services, and waste treatment companies; all of which, account for the growing threat to marine life.
To tackle plastic pollution causes, the WWF suggests that governments push ahead for new strategies to create systematic solutions through imposing strict laws, such as Extended Plastic Responsibility (EPR), impose bans on plastic use, waste collection, impose taxes on landfilling and on open dumping.