Cleanup raises awareness of the problem of debris on beaches, a serious global problem; In Israel, plastic bags account for 30% of total waste, compared to 10% worldwide.

Yaron Druckman 09.20.15, 10:25 / Israel Business

Last weekend marked the 30th International Beach Cleaning Day, which is meant to raise public awareness of the preservation of the sea and the coast, especially in terms of waste problems.

Hundreds of volunteers came to clean several beaches in the country on Friday. During the operation large amounts of garbage were collected by, among others, divers who collected debris from the seabed. The participants wish to raise awareness of the problem of debris on beaches, which is recognized as a serious global problem.

About 20 professional divers participated in the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel’s cleaning operation at Habonim Beach, south of Haifa, also held in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Ministry. Waste of terrestrial origin causes immense damage to coastal and marine ecosystems, but it is also a sanitation, economic, aesthetic and touristic problem.

Nature conservation organizations around the world commemorate the event and conduct cleanups at sea and on beaches. Marine ecologist Sarah Ohayon of the Society for the Protection of Nature said that the sea waste is composed of bottles, plastic, old nets, iron, toys and more.

Environmental Protection Ministry figures reveal that in 2012 plastic bags accounted for 30 percent of total waste, compared to 10 percent worldwide. Countries where more plastic bags were found on beaches are China (53 percent) and Ghana (49 percent).

The Ministry stressed that this figure further highlights the importance of eradicating the use of these bags in Israel, a move led by Environmental Protection Minister, Avi Gabbay.

A video that recently went viral on social media highlights the damage garbage can do to sea wild life.
Straw removed from sea turtle

Another alarming statistic is the amount of food containers and disposable dishes in Israel, 31 percent in Israel compared to 22 percent worldwide. This indicates excessive use of such products and Israeli vacationers’ lack of rigor in keeping beaches clean. In contrast, while bottles and cans make up 17 percent of all waste in the world, in Israel they only account for 4 percent of waste. The only country with a lower figure regarding bottle and can waste is Austria (3 percent). This clearly indicates the success of the bottle deposit law in Israel.

Thursday, US embassy workers, led by Ambassador Dan Shapiro, helped clean up Palmachim Beach, south of Rishon Lezion. Ambassador Shapiro said he and the embassy staff were happy to take part in the activity that contributes to raising awareness about marine debris. The US ambassador noted that US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are working on a policy of protecting the oceans, beaches and lakes.,7340,L-4702238,00.html