Involving private companies in Beach Cleaning Program of Schinias Marathon N2000 Protected Area
Management Authority of Schinias Marathon National Park, Mount. Hymettus and Southeast Attica
Region & country
Project PARALIES was implemented for its 1st year, applied to 8 beaches of the Attica Region (among which the beach of the Schinias Protected Area) focusing at cleaning the marine litter and protecting the beaches against waste pollution during the 2021 summer period.
Background of the project
The specific beach is a summertime land mark for the residents of the broader Athens area. For this reason, the pressures that are forced to the beach mainly by the bathers are enormous during the 3 months (June to August) of the summer period. There are solid waste which, intentionally or accidentally, end up to the beach and to its surrounding environment, which in the specific case is the umbrella pine (P. pinea) forest of the Protected Area. On top of that there is a historical pollution, mainly consisted by plastics (fragments less than 2.5 cm, straws, small pieces of nets, parts of plastic bags) and smoking litter (cigarettes butts), which have been accumulated inside the sand throughout the previous years.
- First of all, a continuous beach cleaning program that must be performed throughout the entire summer period on a daily basis to prevent the accumulation of new entry waste into the sand and to clean-up the respective historical pollution of marine litter.
- Furthermore, the introduction of a scheme for the separate collection of the recyclable waste, which are generated at the beach by the bathers.
- Finally, the awareness raising of the people visiting the beach regarding the impacts to the coastal and marine ecosystem of the waste that are left, intentionally or accidentally, at the beach.
Solution and actions taken
What is required to cover the above needs is the appropriate design and implementation of an integrated cleaning program that will not be limited to a one-day cleaning action, but it will cover the entire summer period taking place at a daily basis by personnel specifically trained for this purpose and operating according to a strict cleaning protocol developed specifically for the beach and taken into account its characteristics and particularities regarding its use by the bathers. To secure the funds for this action program, we have concluded that the private initiative should be mobilized.
Towards the above direction, private companies were invited to participate in project PARALIES’ initiative by adopting specific beaches for the whole summer and providing the funds required for the implementation of the project to these beaches.
In total 7 companies agreed to participate and to adopt 8 beaches (among which the beach of the Schinias Protected Area).
Once the funds were secured:
personnel were hired and trained on how to perform the specific works efficiently following the specifications of a protocol developed for the specific purpose.
bins of specific characteristics to cover the recycling needs of the beaches, as well as appropriate equipment (notice boards, beach flags) to promote the project and increase its visibility by the bathers, were designed, constructed and installed at the beaches.
a specialized beach ashtray, which have been developed by our team during a previous LIFE project (LIFE AMMOS), was reproduced and delivered daily to the bathers.
an extended informative and awareness raising campaign was designed and executed via social media.
monitoring and recording of the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of the collected waste (from the beach and from the bins) was performed on a daily basis.
Specifically regarding the beach of the Schinias Protected Area, throughout the whole 2021 summer period (1st of June to 15th of September) the following waste were collected:
- Plastic: 855.51 Kg
- Paper: 244.74
- Aluminium: 265.56
- Glass: 520.03
- Mixed waste: 1,580.85
The recyclables (plastic, paper, aluminium, glass) were transferred to a licensed recycling facility, while the mixed waste were managed by the Municipality of Marathon.
By the cleaning of the beach itself, extra 284.45 Kg of marine litter were collected, which correspond to 67,909 pieces. The majority of these pieces were cigarette butts (25,420 pieces), plastic fragments of size less than 2.5 cm (28,268 pieces) and plastic straws (10,115 pieces).
Other institutions or parties involved
In particular regarding the beach of the Schinias Protected Area, of total length 3 Km, it was divided in 4 successive sectors of 750 m length each, which were adopted by 4 companies respectively (AVIN, Terra Nova, Circular Independence, Vassia Kostara Limited Collections).
It has to be underlined that the enthusiastic support and assistance in various issues that were raised during the project, which was provided by the Management Authority of Schinias Marathon National Park, Mount. Hymettus and Southeast Attica region to our team was of crucial importance for the successful implementation of the project PARALIES.
Furthermore, the Municipality of Marathon was informed prior to the initiation of the project and it has expressed its support to our initiative.
The beaches that were adopted in the context of the project PARALIES (the Schinias’ beach included) were protected efficiently by the anthropogenic pressure of the summer period and they are delivered to the winter period free of waste. Moreover, a significant portion of the historical pollution due to the accumulated marine litter of the previous years, was removed by the beach environment.
There weren’t any serious problems or difficulties that we had to overpass during the implementation of the project PARALIES. This was also enhanced by the continuous support of the Management Authority of Schinias Marathon National Park, Mount. Hymettus and Southeast Attica region.
In few times we had to deal with skeptical bathers who were in a way aggressive to our initiative mainly because they didn’t believe that the involvement of private companies, the intentions of which were questioned, would be for the best for the environment of the beach. We believe that our consistency in our program and our work eventually persuaded them that the project’s result was for and not against the protection of the ecosystem.
The experience gained by this 1st year of the project PARALIES implementation shows the necessity of action programs like this to be implemented every year to beaches which face significant anthropogenic pressures during summer. The consistent repetition of the project PARALIES in the future will ensure the effective protection of the marine and coastal ecosystem against marine (and specifically plastic) litter.
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