The Clean Blue Alliance is working with communities around the world to help them stop the flow of plastic into the ocean. To launch the alliance, we want to showcase a working solution to the plastic challenge and decided a small island would provide the perfect opportunity.
Islands let us see and understand a local community’s complete waste flow, test solutions and demonstrate systems change before scaling to larger geographies with more complex waste flows. Small islands also usually depend on healthy seas and beaches for their livelihood.
In 2018, Common Seas travelled to Greece to find an island best suited to the project goals. We had a long list of criteria, which included everything from waste infrastructure and winter population to schools, existing behaviour and local politics. We finally narrowed down our list to three islands: Syros, Paros and Tinos.
To make our final selection, we modelled the flow of plastic on and off each of these three islands. We learned that waste inputs come from multiple sources, including island businesses (like supermarkets, restaurants, hotels and residents), tourists (including day-trippers from cruise ships), shipping, the fish industry, private yachts and other islands. Similarly, we found out how each island disposes of its plastic waste – via, for example, other better-facilitated islands or by sending it to the mainland.
We finally selected the island of Paros as our testbed for launch. The local community was very aligned with the Clean Blue Alliance objectives; they welcomed our work and had motivated decision-makers ready for action. The island’s mayor, Mr Markos Kovaios, personally recognises the need for action and has an optimistic vision for creating a more circular local economy.
We have signed an agreement with the Municipality of Paros island and with the local waste management company. We have recruited three staff, Hara Xirou, Zana Kontomanoli and Stella Cervello, and are moving at a rate of knots towards project launch in time for a busy summer season.
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