The Zero Beach Project project aims to promote the implementation of zero waste strategies along the Barcelona region’s coastal and beach areas.
The Zero Beach project aims to promote the implementation of effective zero waste strategies to reduce the waste generated by high volumes of tourists that visit the beaches and coastal areas near Barcelona. In the Mediterranean, 80% of marine litter comes from land sources and 80% of this is plastic. The beaches are one of the most crowded areas during the summer on the entire Catalan and Mediterranean coast, with local data showing a 40% increase in waste generation during the summer months in the Mediterranean. During the summer of 2019, in collaboration with public administrations, Rezero and Eco-union tested three pilot studies with the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona to reduce waste on beaches. These included the simulation of a deposit return system for drink containers, a smoking ban and an awareness-raising initiative among beach users on the good practices they can follow to prevent waste contaminating our seas and beaches. After the pilots finished, these strategies were legally evaluated to facilitate their implementation by the public administration in Barcelona. Through the work of the project, it has been shown that banning smoking on beaches can reduce the presence of cigarette butts by up to 80%. Furthermore, 900 containers per week were collected on average through the DRS system. This data is now being used to call for policies that create a new regulatory framework for municipalities to implement that result in waste free beaches.
The project budget was 60.000€ for both organizations, Rezero and Eco-union. This includes staff costs, technical & legal assistance, research studies on marine litter in Catalonia, expert workshops, data analysis on existing prevention measures, communications and a waste characterisation analysis.
Evidence of success
Through the work of the project, it has been shown that banning smoking on beaches can reduce the presence of cigarette butts by up to 80%, which is key given that these items are non-recyclable. Furthermore, 900 containers per week were collected on average through the DRS system. Whilst only a pilot project, the results provide a framework for municipalities to adopt to prevent waste in some of the highest waste generating areas in the Mediterranean.
Potential for learning or transfer
There is a huge potential for learning and replication from the Zero Beach project, throughout not only the Mediterranean but in any coastal region. Given the similar challenges that local coastal authorities face, the impact shown by the introduction of these policies proves that their implementation can have a huge role to play in reducing the volume of waste generated by beach visitors.
Locally, Rezero is continuing to take the learnings from the project to use them to support and facilitate more municipalities and economic actors in the region develop effective zero waste approaches. This includes engaging with a wider range of stakeholders, including beach facilities such as bars, nautical activities and other marine sport centres, who also play an important role in preventing marine litter from reaching our beaches and seas.