© Constantinos & Petros Sofikitis

Clean Blue Paros

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.

Why Paros?

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.

The Process

How does Paros stem the flow of plastic into the Aegean sea?

Clean Blue Alliance initiatives are designed around three principle elements:

Investigate
Intervene
Influence
Investigate
© Phocaeus Photography

Identify waste stream and leakage

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.

  • Social audits explore how people on Paros use and dispose of plastics, question what change the local community wants to see and identify what could help people to act.
  • Waste audits determine both the volume and types of plastic waste, and how it 'flows' around the island. This involves mapping bin locations, tracking waste trucks, measuring recyclable materials in landfill and documenting what is collected for recycling.
  • Marine litter monitoring identifies which plastic items are found where and highlights Paros' marine litter hot-spots.
Intervene

Incubate and accelerate solutions

Clean Blue Paros has a dual strategy:

  1. To radically reduce the volume of single-use plastics being used
  2. To optimise the management of plastic waste that remains

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:

  • Support businesses to radically reduce plastic bags, straws, drinks bottles, coffee cups, takeaway containers through piloting new systems and alternative re-usable products.
  • Celebrate and promote businesses that demonstrate a measurable commitment to their targets.
  • Incentivise engagement in the scheme through rewards and publicity.

We are implementing community refill and reuse systems to reduce the use of single-use plastic water bottles. This involves:

  • Installing water refill stations in schools and giving all children on the island a Clean Blue Paros water bottle.
  • Increasing the distribution and use of public drinking water systems.

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.

Influence

Replicate and scale best practice

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:

  • Banning the plastic items most commonly found on the beach, to meet the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive.
  • Reviewing Extended Producer Responsibility and demonstrating a separate collection of plastics packaging waste to meet the EU Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, Greece National Waste Management Strategy by 2020 and National Packaging Law.

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.

Did you know?

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

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