Reducing Tourist Marine Litter in Northern Africa through a Sustainable Waste Management System

Spilled garbage on the beach of the big city. Empty used dirty plastic bottles. Dirty sea sandy shore the Black Sea. Environmental pollution. Ecological problem. Moving waves in the background

As a relatively closed and highly populated basin, the Mediterranean Sea is a hotspot for marine pollution. International strategies which support countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt through tailored, innovative actions show that there is an awareness for this issue. In the Regional Plan for Marine Litter in the Mediterranean of the Barcelona Convention, countries have committed to action against pollution, and international initiatives encourage the signatories to adhere to these commitments.

Despite this progress, however, waste generation continues to increase in North African countries, and much of the plastic waste is not adequately collected and treated. A significant contribution to waste generation stems from the tourism sector. Tourists generate up to twice as much solid waste per head and day (2.6 kg) as locals (0.6 to 1.0 kg). Substantial amounts of this waste end up on beaches and in the ocean causing social, economic and ecological problems. Further urbanization of the coastal regions and rising tourism numbers are likely to exacerbate these problems.

In an effort to tackle this issue, the BMU-funded project “Contribution of a Sustainable Waste Management System in the Tourism Sector to the Protection of Marine Ecosystems” aims to minimize waste from tourism in Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia and to recycle and reuse unavoidable waste in order to sustainably reduce the total amount of marine and beach litter. Through a baseline assessment of marine pollution and waste management techniques, close collaboration with regional and national stakeholders, as well as deployment of legal, financial, institutional and technical solutions, the project will help reduce tourism-related beach pollution in the region by 60 percent. Capacity building, awareness raising and knowledge transfer with regards to sustainable waste management will help local stakeholders like hotels, communities and other partners in the region to ensure long-term sustainability of the project.

In this context adelphi, together with the leading partner University of Rostock and seven other organisations, contributes to the development of an overall waste management and litter reduction strategy in four pilot areas. To achieve this goal, adelphi supports the development of concepts and solutions of different aspects of waste management in the targeted countries. Furthermore, adelphi will disseminate the project results and will provide awareness raising and capacity building activities on marine litter and waste management in cooperation with local actors as well as activities to enable project impacts beyond the project duration and pilot areas. In particular, adelphi will develop an institutional platform to manage financial and material flows (i.e. Producer Responsibility Organisation, PRO) in the four countries; conduct national and regional workshops for discussing the proposed operational, financial and organizational solutions; develop and implement a concept for dissemination, awareness raising and capacity building; and introduce education on waste banks.