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This year's World environment day (5 june) and World oceans day (8 june) dedicated to reducing plastic waste

Ljubljana, 1 June 2018 – In 1972 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 5 June as World Environment Day and 8 June as World Oceans Day. This year the two days are linked by a common thread, a call to all of us to beat plastic pollution and thus protect our valuable environment. In the past few years the awareness that the presence of waste in the world's seas poses a major threat has increased, as according to some estimates plastic waste accounts for between 60 and 90% of all waste found in the oceans and on the coasts around the world. The Slovenian sea is no exception to this. When the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning (MESP) was drawing up the first "Marine Environmental Management Plan", adopted by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia last year, it was established that, on average, 74% of all waste collected on the Slovenian coast consisted of plastic materials. Floating plastic waste constitutes an even bigger share in the Slovenian sea and accounts for as much as 90% of all waste.

Beating plastic pollution
Beating plastic pollution is a call to action for all of us to come together to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time. This principle invites us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural places, our wildlife – and our own health. While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become over reliant on single-use or disposable plastic – with severe environmental consequences. "According to some estimates, around the world, 1 million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute; every year, up to 5 trillion disposable plastic bags are used, etc. In total almost half of the plastic we use is single use. Worldwide, nearly one third of the plastic packaging we use escapes collection systems, which means that it ends up in the environment. Every year up to 13 million tons of plastic waste leak into our oceans, where it smothers coral reefs and threatens vulnerable marine wildlife. The plastic that ends up in the oceans can circle the Earth four times in a single year, and can persist for hundreds of years before it fully disintegrates (Source: http://worldenvironmentday.global/en/about/beat-plastic-pollution)".


Pollution of the Slovenian sea with plastic waste
One of the key reasons that the pollution of waters with plastic waste poses such a great threat to the sea is an extremely long lifetime of plastic materials. Due to its persistence and accumulation, such waste travels long distances carried by sea currents and winds, thus polluting not only the area of its input, but also the remote areas that are not directly burdened with the sources of waste inputs. We have recently also witnessed this phenomenon in our country, as large quantities of waste ended up in our sea and coast, predominantly from other, even quite distant, places. Effective action undertaken by the responsible services, the Slovenian Water Agency, the Maritime Administration and other organisations, as well as by a number of volunteers, has certainly contributed considerably to mitigating the negative impacts of this event on our environment. In order to avoid such events as much as possible in the future, a step forward will have to be taken, in particular towards the use, production and consumption of short-lived plastic products, such as disposable products, and towards generating changes in behavioural patterns regarding inappropriate waste management.


Protect the Sea, be a Star
In 2017 the MESP, in cooperation with the Slovenian Maritime Administration and other bodies and institutions, launched the project "Protect the Sea, be a Star". This project was awarded the first prize for the best environmental protection project at the Internautica show last year. The project has continued in 2018. A round table was held in cooperation with the organisers of Internautica 2018 entitled "On the issue of plastic waste in the sea and on changing our attitude to the environment". Activities to raise awareness on the issue of waste in the sea and on the coast will be continued and upgraded in the future as well.
2017-2021 Marine Environment Management Plan
The 2017-2021 Marine Environmental Management Plan sets out a number of measures relating to the conservation of biodiversity, the reduction of pollution by toxic substances and nutrients, the prevention of waste influx into the sea and the coast, and the remediation of pollution with pollutants and waste. It also defines the responsible spearheaders and providers of particular measures. The cooperation of several competent authorities is required for effective maritime management and protection. The Slovenian Water Agency has been designated as the provider of the activities behind the measure aimed at reducing the waste influx into waters and removing the existing marine waste on the sea coast. This measure includes the active collection of data on the existence of focal points of waste in the river system of the Adriatic basin. The Slovenian Water Agency began drafting expert grounds for the development of an appropriate methodology for monitoring waste in rivers. Mindful of the importance of properly organizing the marine protection service that also performs the tasks of cleaning up the sea surface, the State transferred these tasks to the Slovenian Maritime Administration as of 2016. Slovenia thus ensured the long-term stable operational implementation of the tasks of sea surface cleaning and cleaning up the pollution at sea. In doing so, the State has merged some of other related tasks and the equipment specialised for such maritime tasks, thereby optimising operations at sea.

 

Suggestions for reducing plastic waste
There are so many things that we can do – from not using plastic plates, cups and disposable cutlery at picnics, to bringing your own coffee mug to work and your own shopping bags to the supermarket, etc.

 

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World Environment Day


World Oceans Day


Protect the Sea, be a Star