Clean Blue Paros will support this Greek island in becoming the first plastic-waste free Mediterranean island and a global leader in the fight against plastics in our seas.
Our Clean Blue Alliance initiative supports islands in accelerating solutions that eliminate plastic entering our seas and oceans. Its first island initiative, ‘Clean Blue Paros’, is a ground-breaking collaboration between Paros Municipality, the Cyclades Preservation Fund, WATT, WWF Greece and pioneering local Paros businesses.
Through shared research, assets, guidance and dynamic tools, Clean Blue Alliance connects islands with best practice to build a global network of plastic waste-free islands.
Greece’s population triples in the summer, contributing €35b to the economy (almost 20% of GDP in 2017). Tourists flock to the islands for their beautiful beaches and clean seas, but the population surge sees a similar increase in plastic waste. This represents an environmental and economic risk to Greece.
We selected the island of Paros because it met a specific set of criteria. During its high season, Paros experiences a 350% increase in waste. Its landfill sites are almost full. The complexity of Paros' waste challenges presents an opportunity to explore and deliver systemic solutions that can be replicated and scaled across other islands.
Our other criteria included community interest, governance, finance, existing waste management infrastructure and profile, demographics, accessibility, and local partners and influencers.
How does Paros stem the flow of plastic into the Aegean sea?
Clean Blue Alliance initiatives are designed around three principle elements:
We are currently building a thorough understanding of Paros’ plastic ecosystem, gathering baseline data on social factors, waste and marine litter audits for ongoing evaluation, and identifying opportunities to stop plastic entering the sea.
Step One: National policy landscape
The solutions we pilot on Paros are designed to inspire and accelerate nationwide and European policies to safeguard clean seas. Using our Plastic Drawdown approach, we have identified a portfolio of priority policies to reduce the flow of plastic in the Greek seas.
Step Two: On-the-ground research
We repeat our investigations throughout the year. The information we gather helps us design solutions and measure progress towards our targets.
Clean Blue Paros has a dual strategy:
1. Radical reduction
Following the steps in our Clean Blue Guidelines, we support cafes, bars and restaurants to set targets, reduce their use of single-use plastics and improve how they collect high-value plastic waste. Over 40 businesses have signed up so far. In practice, we:
We are implementing community refill and reuse systems to reduce the use of single-use plastic water bottles. This involves:
Other activities include sharing school resources and running educational events, partnering with transport companies to engage tourists before they arrive, and conducting Clean Blue Paros communication campaigns.
2. Optimise waste management
We have designed and are piloting a system to separately collect see-through drinks bottles and containers (PET and PP) to help drive a higher re-use value from this material.
We celebrate leadership and share our learning with other islands. Through our partnerships, solutions that are successful on Paros will inform national policy implementation.
The EU and Greece have committed to certain plastic policies, including:
Because we are already implementing these policies through Clean Blue Paros, we can provide a clear demonstration of how to initiate action and measure impact.
We favour solutions that support a lasting reduction of plastic waste and create a long-term legacy of sustainable behaviours.
Each year Greece produces an estimated 1,000 tons of single-use cups waste. That is the equivalent to the weight of eight and a half blue whales.
"We warmly welcome this important and vital collaboration with Common Seas and WATT, with the ambition to make Paros the first, pioneering Mediterranean island to become plastic waste-free. As a first step, amongst other initiatives, we are committed to phasing out plastic straws by next summer, ahead of the EU ban planned for 2022. We are encouraged by the businesses who have committed to support Clean Blue Paros. They are already acting to reduce plastic use and better manage plastic waste, such as offering incentives for customers using refillable cups and providing alternatives to plastic straws. We aim to support the growth of conservationist and ecological awareness in Paros"
Mr. Markos Kovaios, Mayor of Paros Island
"We all share a love for the environment and experience nature’s wonder, particularly when we are on the Greek islands. We welcome this important initiative that will invest in incubating and accelerating viable enterprises developed on the island, enable a higher volume of waste to be recycled, and preserve the beauty of Paros for generations to come."
Mr. Athanasios Katris, Chief Executive Officer of WATT
This new approach to addressing plastic pollution helps governments understand plastic waste flows and optimise policies to effectively ‘drawdown’ the flow of ocean plastic pollution.
Our vision is a global network of plastic waste-free islands. We are working with governments, councils, businesses and local changemakers to identify and accelerate solutions.
Common Seas wants to inspire a generation of sea champions, and we are working with schools to put plastic pollution and the ocean into the school curriculum.