The Ministry for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning is embarking on the Saving Our Blue Campaign, a nationwide education and awareness-raising initiative aimed at making the public more aware of environment degradation from unsustainable consumption of single-use plastics, particularly on our marine waters and the sea animals that live in it.
“Land-based marine litter does not only involve the discarded litter of consumables on the beaches, but also our streets, parks, and afforested areas and community spaces. The emphasis of this campaign on sustainable consumption – particularly of single-use plastics which, when littered, significantly harms the environment. If we want a healthy environment, we need to start consuming more sustainably and exercise proper disposal of these plastics when we are outdoors on our beaches,” Minister for the Environment Climate Change and Planning Aaron Farrugia said.
He explained that, each year, tonnes of plastics end up leaking into the oceans as a result of improper waste disposal and littering, equivalent to more than 80% of the litter that accumulates on European beaches and oceans. The top 10 items most commonly found on beaches consist of single-use plastics, with examples including cigarette butts, plastic bottles and food wrappers. A similar situation applies for Malta, where during last year’s edition of the Saving Our Blue Campaign, 25kg of cigarette butts were collected during five awareness-raising beach events of only three hours each.
“The time has come for a transformative change. For ambitious and immediate action. Seas and oceans will play an important role in the European Green Deal and in our transition towards a sustainable economy. We need thriving marine ecosystems to support a climate-resilient future,” Minister Farrugia said, as he explained that this campaign forms part of similar campaigns being run by 42 governments around Europe, where marine litter harms more than 600 marine species, 15% of which are endangered.
The launch was addressed by the two ambassadors for the campaign, presenters Keith Demicoli and Owen Bonnici. “Plastic had an important role in protecting health workers and ourselves during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that we are coming out of this pandemic, we need to ensure that we do not enter into another one due to the pollution of our seas and our environment as a result of the disposal of masks, gloves, and plastic. Right now, we might not be thinking about the plastic we are generating and the way our actions today might lead to an even more devastating pandemic tomorrow,” Demicoli said. Bonnici stressed that we need to understand that, through our actions and simple decisions, we can make a big difference towards enjoying our seas in the long-term.
The 2020 edition of the Campaign will intensify the dissemination of knowledge through the media on the impacts of marine litter, including the dangers to both marine species and humans. The Campaign will once again target single-use plastics and the harm that these cause to the environment, while focusing on the availability of alternative products and practices.