Amalfi sandy beach with umbrellas and sunbathers

Europe Sets Benchmark for Clean and Healthy Seas and Beaches

Today, ahead of the World CleanUp Day on 19 September, the European Commission is setting a threshold value for marine litter on coastlines, to help clean up Europe’s beaches and keep them clean.

EU Member States’ experts have agreed that a beach will need to have less than 20 litter items for every 100 meters of coastline to stay under the threshold.

It provides the first fixed, tangible objective for all of Europe’s beaches and represents a significant commitment to keep them clean.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, said: “This agreement is a sign that we have stepped up our fight against litter on our beaches and coastline, with benefits for our environment, for our blue economy and all of us.”

“It strengthens our commitment to move towards a zero pollution ambition in synergy with our biodiversity objectives. Now we have a clearer benchmark in achieving clean and healthy seas and I call on Member State authorities to use this agreed value and take the necessary measures to achieve litter-free beaches. The reduction of single-use plastics together with better waste management and boosting recycling will help us achieve this goal.” 

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, responsible for the Joint Research Centre (JRC), said: “This new beach litter threshold value is another fantastic example of science at the heart of making the right choices for a greener, more sustainable Europe. Our own experts at the Joint Research Centre, together with Member States, have analyzed data from all over Europe, working across the Commission to help set a target that will keep our beaches clean.” 

The beach litter threshold value has been developed under the Commission’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which requires the Member States to develop and implement strategies to protect the marine environment.

To raise awareness about the challenge of marine litter and encourage citizens worldwide to take action, the European Commission and the European External Action Service are organizing the third edition of the #EUBeachCleanup campaign.

The threshold demonstrates the EU’s commitment to fulfilling the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 14.1 to reduce marine pollution significantly by 2025.

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