The Monitoring of Marine Waste on Beaches Programme, carried out by the Portuguese Environmental Agency has been annually defining the Top 10 items of marine waste. That is, which are the ten most identified polluting objects found on the Portuguese coast?
This monitoring programme aims to provide information on the quantity, composition, spatial distribution, and waste trends on beaches. Additionally, the collected data allows for a better perception of the ecological risks posed by marine waste.
In a general monitoring perspective, the most abundant categories on beaches are plastic (88%), sanitary articles (5.4%), and paper and cardboard (3.1%).
The TOP 10 of most commonly found waste on Portuguese beaches in 2020:
- Cigarette butts and filters
- Plastic fragments 0 - 2.5 cm
- Polystyrene fragments 0 - 2.5 cm
- Plastic fragments 2.5 - 50 cm
- Polystyrene fragments 2.5 - 50 cm
- Cotton buds
- Bottle tops and rings
- Rope and string (< 1 cm in diameter)
- Sponge foam
- Crisp packets/ sweet packets
In order to reduce the impact of disposable plastic products on the environment, the designation “single use plastic” (PUU – produtos de utilização única, in Portuguese) was created. These products are only used once, are rarely recycled, and end up becoming waste.
Of the 88% plastic found on Portuguese beaches in 2020, 42% are ‘single use plastic’:
- Cigarette butts and filters 19%
- Cotton buds 5.3%
- Bottle tops and rings 5.2%
- Crisp packets/ sweet packaging 2.1%
- Other bags 2.1%
- Lollipop and ice-cream sticks 1.8%
- Shopping bags 1.7%
- Food packaging1.3%
- Straws and plastic stirrers 1.4%
- Bottles and containers: Drinks 0.9%
- Wet wipes/ nappies/ sanitary towels 0.6%
- Glasses and cups 0.4%
- Other bottles and containers 0.3%
- Cutlery/ trays/ plates 0.1%
- Balloons (as well as the fillers, ribbons, and string, etc) 0.1%
- Tampons and applicators 0.1%
Source: Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente (The Portuguese Environmental Agency)