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Sustainability Matters – April 2021

This month, IbizaPreservation proudly announce some important victories in the fight to rid plastics from our lives for good

The more observant visitor to these shores will notice an ever-so-subtle difference when frequenting our shops, cafés, bars or restaurants this year.

Certain items have disappeared!

Since 20 March, new legal measures have come into force across the Balearics, forbidding the sale and distribution of certain single-use plastic items. These include plastic straws, cups, plates, cotton buds, lollipop sticks and plastic rings for multipacks of cans.

The even better news is that it is now obligatory for establishments to offer customers tap water, free of charge, as an alternative to the bottled-in-plastic type - so long as the local town hall or water company can guarantee the supply is fit for human consumption (which, in the vast majority of cases, it is).

It's a significant step on the long road towards eliminating the scourge of plastic pollution from our islands.


A sea of plastic

This matters because the Mediterranean is now one of the most polluted seas in the world and, according to the WWF, 95% of the waste found in its waters or on its shores is made from plastic. With a concentration of microplastics nearly four times higher than that found in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, plastics are also finding their way from the waters of the Mediterranean, through the food chain and into our bellies, posing a major threat to human health.

Plus, this plastic pollution not only harms our marine life, but it also endangers a key sector of the local economy, tourism.

We at IbizaPreservation therefore support this pioneering law and any and all steps taken to reduce the amount of plastic in our environment. Together with partners at Save the Med Foundation in Mallorca and the Monaco-based Beyond Plastic Med, we are developing Plastic Free Balearics, a certification scheme aimed at businesses working in the hospitality sector across the four Balearic Islands. The idea is to help them not just to comply with the letter of the law but to recognise and reward those who go even further towards reducing their plastic footprint.


“Greenwashing”

Part of the problem we are facing is that there are many products being promoted on the market as “green” alternatives to plastic. Take bioplastics: items made partly from natural sources such as corn starch or sugar cane, but which can contain petroleum-based plastics. Under the new Balearic law, companies are still allowed to substitute single-use plastic products for these, so long as they meet certain EU standards.

Bioplastics are often touted as “ecofriendly”, “biodegradable” and “compostable”, so it's easy for well-meaning businesses and consumers to fall into the trap. The truth is that they are still single-use products, contain harmful substances and only break down under very specific conditions in industrial plants. In reality, most bioplastic items end up in landfill or incinerators, just like normal plastic.


Alternatives to plastic

There are many things we can do as individuals to help make a difference:

  • Take your own shopping bags to the supermarket and get some reusable mesh bags for fruit and veg.
  • Keep a small, foldaway bag in your rucksack, handbag or glovebox of your car so you don't get caught short while you're out and about.
  • Cut down on plastic bottles by carrying a refillable one instead.
  • When you order a drink, ask that it be served without a straw or plastic stirrer.
  • Carry your own food containers and cutlery to use if you're getting takeaway food for a picnic at the beach or elsewhere.

The plastics pipeline

Of course, in all of this, we mustn't lose sight of the real culprit. Plastic is a by-product of oil – and while the big producers keep pumping it out, our reliance on it is never going to end.

IbizaPreservation is proud to have founded a now Spain-wide movement to keep oil and gas exploration out of our waters. Since 2013, Alianza Mar Blava has managed to get 18 existing permits cancelled and recently succeeded in winning cross-party support in the Spanish Parliament for a bill that will ban prospecting and exploration throughout Spanish Mediterranean waters.

Local victories like this show that change is in our hands and IS possible. So, let's not lose hope; by pulling together and fighting for what we believe in, we can yet turn our dream of a plastic-free future into a reality.


You can find out more about IbizaPreservation and donate towards their work by going to their website: ibizapreservation.org. You can also follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Check out Ibiza Spotlight's recommended eco-friendly businesses whilst you are here and help to support a greener, cleaner Ibiza and Formentera.

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