Every year the sea is contaminated with 8 million tonnes of plastics, a square mountain more than 450 metres high. | R.E.

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The Balearic Islands are the Spanish autonomous community that generates the most waste per capita, despite having the “Law 8/2019 on Waste and Contaminated Soil in the Balearic Islands” and, more recently, the “Decreto Ley” 3/2022 on urgent measures for the sustainability and circularity of tourism in the Balearic Islands.

Last April 26 the local University (UIB) hosted a “Seminar for the development of alternative solutions to disposable plastics in the tourism industry based on R & D”, held within the framework of the collaboration between Plastic Free Balearics and the UIB to promote research and development of innovative solutions in this field.

On behalf of the UIB, Loren Carrasco, vice-rector for innovation and digital transformation at the UIB, took part in the seminar: “We will do everything which is in our hands to seek synergies with foundations such as Save The Med and organisations from other sectors to try to find interesting initiatives and projects that help us improve or resolve the situation we currently have," she said.

The Plastic Free Balearics project was represented by Save the Med’s President, Brad Robertson: "Collaboration is crucial to reach real and honest solutions, there is no organisation, neither public nor private, that has the key to the problems we face, we need to build new relationships between all the sectors based on respect, honesty and transparency”, he declared.

Among those attending the conference were representatives of research teams from the UIB, companies from the environmental and industrial sectors and NGOs. The different dynamics carried out revealed a great interest in forming synergies between the third sector, industry and the academic sector for the development of alternatives to single-use plastics in the tourism industry. This meeting represents one more step in the for the fight against "false solutions" in the Balearic Islands and the high consumption of single-use plastics.

That is why the conference focused on the so-called "controversial cases" for which there are no alternatives in the market, among which were plastic take away cups, single serving sachets, or hotel amenities, cartons, cling film and, especially, bioplastics, due to the confusion they generate among the population.

To find real alternatives to these products, it is essential to find feasible solutions through R&D&i to move from the linear model, with a high environmental impact, to a circular model.

Based on the work carried out by Plastic Free Balearics, the consumption of plastic by the service sector throughout the archipelago has been diagnosed. During the Seminar, some of the environmental challenges that the territory is currently facing in terms of plastic pollution were presented.

The conference resulted in the declaration of intent to promote research and development of innovative solutions and alternatives at the local level to disposable plastics in the tourism industry. Through this principle of agreement, various forms of collaboration have been established, aimed at improving the work previously carried out by both entities within the framework of the Plastic Free Balearics certification, and many of the future activities of the certification will be launched with close cooperation between the two institutions.

If you would like further information on the Plastic Free Balearics initiative please visit https://plasticfreebalearics.org/

Plastic Free Balearics is a joint initiative of the Save the Med Foundation and Ibiza Preservation, with the participation of Plastic Free Ibiza and Formentera and Plastic Free Menorca. The project has been co-financed by the association Beyond Plastic Med (BeMed) and aims to achieve a Balearic Islands region free of single use plastics.