July 16, 2019 News from Member MEPAs - HELMEPA

The Campaign ''Let's Clean Up Europe'' was completed with the participation of thousands of HELMEPA volunteers

The European Voluntary Cleanup Campaign, co-ordinated in Greece by HELMEPA during May and June 2019, has been a success for yet another year.

In Greece, 5,500 volunteers from 151 public and private entities organized 107 cleanup activities on beaches, seafloor, rivers and lakes, forests, parks and neighbourhoods over an area of ​​58 km in length. They collected 10.7 tons of waste, of which 3.2 tons were recycled with the collaboration of the Hellenic Recycling Recovery Company.

The volunteers also contributed to HELMEPA's annual research on the quantities, composition and origin of litter as they recorded what they collected. This data show the following 10 most commonly found types of litter that pollute our natural environment.

10 most commonly found types of litter

Type | Pieces
Cigarette butts | 12,760
Pieces of plastic over 2.5 cm | 10,845
Plastic bottle caps and rings | 9,864
Straws | 7,504
Plastic Bottles | 5,269
Plastic Bags | 3,447
Styrofoam pieces of more than 2.5 cm | 3,092
Plastic cups and lids | 2,329
Glass bottles and pieces | 2,195
Ropes and strings | 1,919

In total, the volunteers collected 80,652 pieces of garbage ranging from small pieces of styrofoam to a spit, a motorbike and a refrigerator! The 12,760 cigarette butts are again at the top while plastic caps, straws, bottles, bags and glasses follow and are associated with recreational activities. Especially for beaches and the seabed, this image is a miniature of the global pollution problem, mainly with plastics, of coasts, seas and seabed.

At the link bit.ly/2XnvB04you can see the map of the areas where cleanups were conducted. HELMEPA staff had the opportunity to briefly inform volunteers about the problem of pollution, mainly from plastics, during the cleanups organized by HELMEPA member companies as well as during cleanups at the beaches of Freattyda and Schinias, Hera of Perachoras, Astypalaia and Kalamata.

Once again, the involvement of the educational community at this initiative was remarkable. Children and volunteer teachers members of “HELMEPA Junior”, young volunteers of “HELMEPA Cadets” and other pupils of all ages from Kindergartens, Primary and High Schools spread the word to their fellow citizens through their actions.

Coastal cleanups were carried out by the following 6 member companies' staff with their families, expressing their voluntary commitment to protect the marine environment as well as the Corporate Social Responsibility of the Greek maritime community: Athenian Sea Carriers Ltd., Dianik Bross Shipping Corporation SA, Eurobulk Ltd., Kyla Shipping & Trading Corp., Load Line Marine SA and Sea World Management & Trading Inc.

Local and Port Authorities, Protected Area Management Entities, environmental and cultural associations, diving centers and citizens' initiatives were all actively involved in the cleanups.

Commemorative Diplomas were awarded to all co-ordinators, children and young volunteers. HELMEPA congratulates all volunteers who highlight the fact that only through proper information and collective actions can the environmental problems of our time be addressed. Let's hope that their example will become the trigger to a more responsible behaviour towards the natural environment.

As the protection of the marine environment requires a continuous effort, we expect everyone to participate in our next Worldwide Voluntary Cleanup Campaign, between September 14th and October 31st 2019. Further details will be announced shortly on HELMEPA's website (www.helmepa.gr/en).