Emergency coastal cleanups in December 2020 – Sardinia

Winter storms in Sardinia are characterised by heavy rainfall and strong winds. Cyclons are becoming more frequent due to climate change. Two things happen during these storm in relation to the coastal pollution: the level of water in rivers rise, little streams and crooks turn into torrents carrying down anything that was dumped into the water or along the banks. All house-originating waste that was thrown illegally in those bodies of water ends in the sea. Then the second phenomenon takes place – carried by the sea currents and high waves, the waste is then stranded along the Sardinian coast.

We observe these phenomena every winter and with every season the amount of waste gets bigger. Apart from the domestic waste such as all types of plastic containers ( for detergents and food storage), toys, broken furniture, car tyres, glass bottles, tins and cans, debris, we also find the remains of the last summer. It includes broken beach umbrellas and beach chairs, single-use plastic cups and plates, a lot of plastic spoons (used for ice-cream) and our local favourite: the tips of beach umbrellas. Stuck in the sand and forgotten by the beach goers, they get washed up to the surface in winter.

Little is still known about the consequences of abandoning the litter in the environment. Also, some part of the rubbish, like rubber, glass and plastic could be recycled if sorted out properly and collected by the waste collection company, instead of being dumped in the sea, in the river or any place around the island, which in many cases sooner or later will find its way down to the Mediterranean Sea.

Some statistics from December 2020:

  • 4 cleanups conducted
  • 37 volunteers involved
  • Around 500 kg of waste removed from the coastal environment

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