Sand etchings up to 30 metres in diameter showing sea creatures battling with plastic waste have appeared on beaches in France, Spain, Portugal, the UK and Germany during April.
A final piece is set to be created on the Dutch coast this Saturday, the day before Earth Day. It will be created by Dutch artist Tim Hoekstra, who has campaigned against plastic pollution since 2013. Tim said:
"Every time I come to the beach, I see washed up plastic, mostly food and drink packaging. It has got much worse in recent years. It makes me sick to think that our kids might never know what a clean beach or water is really like."
The European Parliament yesterday approved strict new laws forcing national governments to reduce waste. By 2030, 70% of product packaging must be recycled, including nearly all paper and glass and most plastic. More lawsto restrict throw-away plastic products are expected to be announced in the summer.
Eight million tonnes of waste plastic enters the sea each year, according to UNEP. Half the waste on beaches is single-use plastic, according to one study. Plastic often contains toxic additives like phthalates or heavy metals which leak into the environment and food chain. Toxicity is among the reasons it is difficult to recycle plastic. Most policymakers oppose waste incineration and landfilling because it undermines waste reduction efforts.
European Environmental Bureau waste policy officer Piotr Barczak said:
"Plastic is no longer fantastic, in fact it is out of control. Countless billions of tiny toxic particles are polluting the land, water and even the air. It's a sorry situation, but at least we are waking up to the problem and political leaders are starting to take action. Industry still hasn't woken up to public concern about the mess its products are creating. They need to dramatically rethink how they get their goods to us without endless plastic."