Italy’s Tremiti islands have taken the bold step of banning non-biodegradable plastic cutlery and food containers following a decision by local mayor Antonio Fentini.
The penalty for violations, which can be applied to local traders as well as customers, ranges from 50 to 500 euros.
The decision was taken following publication of the findings of research carried out by the CNR’s Institute of Marine Sciences in Genoa, the Polytechnic University of the Marche and Greenpeace Italia. The study found that the Mediterranean contains levels of microplastics similar to the famous “garbage patches” of the Pacific.
“The results suggest there are no bounds to plastic pollution and that fragments build up in protected areas and places that are theoretically far away from pollution sources,” said Francesca Garaventa, who led the research for the Institute of Marine Sciences, in a Greenpeace statement. “In the Portici area of Naples, which suffers from high levels of anthropic impacts, we measured microplastics at 3.56 fragments per cubic metre but the figure isn’t much lower – 2.2 fragments – at the Tremiti Islands.”
The small archipelago of the Tremiti islands – population little more than 500 – is located off the coast of the south-eastern region of Puglia and is part of the Gargano national park.
“We had to do something”, Mayor Fentini said. “The next step will be to ban plastic bottles and the polystyrene containers that the fishermen use to transport their catch and that we often find at sea. I’m making a call to all the mayors of islands and sea-facing towns in Italy: let’s ban all kinds of plastic and polystyrene containers. Let’s join together to protect our planet.”