Every year between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of plastics end up in the world’s oceans and seas. The problem of plastic waste is a global issue that does not bypass the Baltic Sea.
According to HELCOM, up to 70% of the waste going into the Baltic Sea is plastic. To help the Baltic Sea fight this problem, the MARE Foundation is installing sea baskets in Baltic ports, which are able to catch up to 1,400 kg of rubbish from the water annually. Thanks to the cooperation with Henkel and the Municipal Centre of Culture, Sports and Recreation, the PortBin sea basket has just been installed in the Marina in Puck. It is the fifth such bin installed by the MARE Foundation this year and the first in Puck.
Over the last 70 years, plastic has become an integral part of our everyday life.
It is used to manufacture cars, computers and telephones, in medicine and construction – it accompanies us in almost all areas of life. We rely on plastic for its low production costs, durability and convenience. However, its resistance to degradation, inadequate disposal and widespread use as a single-use material have resulted in increasing amounts of plastic entering the environment, particularly marine ecosystems.
The impact of plastic on the ecosystem as well as on animal and human health is the subject of extensive research worldwide. Plastic waste is a highly heterogeneous mix of different types, sizes and shapes, all of which are important in determining its environmental impact. Larger wastes, such as lost fishing gear, for example, can be deadly traps for marine animals. Smaller particles, on the other hand, are mistaken for food and not only poison sea creatures but also impair their sense of hunger, leading to their death.
We now know that plastics that end up in the environment do not decompose, but only break down into smaller and smaller particles – microplastics and then nanoplastics. Such tiny particles and fibres are impossible to fish out, so they remain in the environment forever and also seep into the marine food web. In recent years, there have been more and more reports on how microplastics also enter the human diet. They are present in air and tap water, as well as in food products such as seafood, honey, sugar, beer and salt. A review of microplastic contamination in commercial salts found that 94% of salt products tested worldwide consistently contained three types of microplastics – PET, PP and PE, which are among the most commonly used plastic polymers. The impact of microplastics on human health is not yet known.
The problem of plastic pollution has a global dimension and also affects the Baltic Sea
Therefore, the MARE Foundation is taking action to prevent plastics from entering our closest sea. The installation of sea baskets in ports and marinas makes it possible to catch waste that has entered the environment before it reaches the bottom of the sea and breaks down into microscopic particles.
– The sea basket installed in Puck thanks to Henkel funding and cooperation between MARE and MOKSiR Puck is already the 5th basket installed by MARE in Baltic waters this year. Installation of sea baskets is a project which MARE Foundation intends to develop gradually. We believe that such a bin should be placed in every marina and port on our coast, as it is an effective solution which improves the condition of the Baltic ecosystem in a measurable way. We are happy that thanks to the commitment and financial support of business we can have an increasing and measurable impact on the cleanliness of the Baltic Sea,” says Olga Sarna, President of the MARE Foundation.
PortBin is a device designed and manufactured by SpillTech in collaboration with the Norwegian Department of Environmental Protection.