The question on how waste at German beaches is managed was answered by Dorothea Seeger, BUND  (Friends of the Earth Germany), and Barbara Voß, Nordseebad Spiekeroog , at the 2nd Interregional Learning Event on the 9th of July 2020. Dorothea Seeger assists municipalities throughout the German coast on how to reduce the volume of plastic waste by means of municipal regulations. The work is closely linked to the activities of the sub-working group "Local Provisions" as part of the German Round Table on Marine Litter.

Coastal communities apply different approaches to firstly reduce the amount of plastic waste on German beaches and coasts and secondly raise awareness about the implications of insufficient waste management among tourists. Best practice examples regarding beach waste management include robust waste bins, that are resist to wind and animals, pocket ashtrays and beach ashtrays using the incentive of public votes (so called ballot bins) with regularly changing questions. “The ballot bins are a great tool to raise awareness in a humorous way and thus prevent littering of cigarette butts”, states Dorothea Seeger.

Following the overview of selected German initiatives, Barbara Voß presented a hands-on example from the German island Spiekeroog. The island has five beach waste boxes in use on the beach during summer, which are meant for collection of waste that is washed up on the shore.  ”We experience that most people are aware of the problem of marine litter. People that spend their holiday on our island are very open-minded and seem to like collecting waste on their beach walks. We are very grateful for that”, explains Barbara Voß.

Due to flood risks, the boxes have to be removed from the shore during winter – which is unfortunately the time when most waste is washed ashore. Other challenges the municipality is facing include the need for improved communication to beach users to not use the boxes as general litter bins but only for beach collection purposes.

“It is important to address these existing challenges in beach management. Nevertheless, we must not forget that it would be favourable to prevent marine litter, for example by reducing the use of single-use items and plastic packaging”, comments Catharina Rubel (Umweltbundesamt) as the German CAPonLITTER partner. The CAPonLITTER project  will continue to work with municipalities on possibilities to prevent and reduce beach litter from touristic and recreational activities, i.e. through an online workshop series in autumn this year. For more information contact Catharina Rubel ([email protected]) or follow the facebook and twitter of the project!