The Shame of Beach Pollution

Tons of litter on the beach: the images of shame. Waste on the beach has become a symbol of overconsumption. You can see in pictures the direct consequences of a hot day at the beach and this is disgusting! Such images are impressive and multiply in the general indifference. Tons of garbage accumulate on our beaches every day. There is no reason to be surprised that the ocean is dying from plastic pollution.

Garbage on the beach makes the coastal area repulsive. Exit sand, deckchairs, parasols and straw hats. The ingredients for a day at sea are very different. Cigarette butts, plastic and glass bottles, soda cans, single-use plastic bags … This is what is commonly found on our beaches. And not in small quantities! Waste on the beach is a shameful symbol of overconsumption.

For proof a video published on social networks last year showed the state of a North Sea beach in Blankenberge in Belgium, after a bit of a hot day, once all the tourists left: thousands of garbage sometimes deposited next to the full bins but often scattered on the beach. Taking measures against this kind of behavior is not obvious, if not conceivable, as people come on the beach to relax. And government officials want them to feel good. But in the meantime, while humans are enjoying the sun, the coastline doesn’t have much fun.

Welcome to the sea of waste! The problem obviously does not only concern Europe. In Bali for example, Green Peace has been denouncing figures that are chilling in the back for a few years. On Kuta beach, in 2018, about 100 tonnes of debris were collected, between the waste thrown by tourists, attracted by surfing in the archipelago, and the debris washed up on the beach from the ocean.

The authorities employ 700 cleaners and 35 dumpster trucks for this every day. And to clarify this problem does not come from people living in Kuta and around the beach. This cleaning up requires a massive waste management effort coordinated by the local authorities. The city had to order new roll-off dumpsters just to cope with the increased demand for large junk collection.

And for good reason, you can see in pictures the diver Rich Horner literally swimming in plastic. The consequences are obviously not only visual, and it is no longer possible to ignore the environmental issues. People thus recently discovered off Corsica a new island entirely made of plastic. Marine species are particularly threatened by pollution. As for us humans, we now know that we eat the equivalent of a plastic credit card every week in our food. Polluting the beach therefore makes this situation even less manageable.

Removing plastic pollution on beaches is a big challenge. There are ideas, but they come from independent initiatives. WWF stated that the Mediterranean Sea is the most polluted in the world with 600,000 tonnes of plastic waste discharged per year.

In May 2019, a competition was held to collect waste in the Marseille coastal area. Kayakers and divers participated in the operation and managed to recover 1.2 tonnes of waste. On the Belgian side, we are also looking to coordinate. The Governor of East Flanders explained for example that he had invited the burgomasters of the coastal municipalities to coordinate on this subject. Among the measures proposed: fines for polluting tourists