An estimated 200.000 tonnes of plastic is leaking into the Mediterranean sea every year, equivalent to over 500 shipping containers each day, while Lost or otherwise Discarded Fishing Gear (LDFG) makes up the majority of large plastic pollution in the oceans. Unless significant measures are taken to address mismanaged waste, the main source of the leakage, this will at least double by 2040.
Enaleia with the “Mediterranean CleanUp” takes action against this global issue by mobilizing the fishers to contribute to tackling marine plastic pollution. Mainly between October and May incentivizes the fishers to bring their plastic bycatches back to port, collecting thousands of Kg of plastic from the bottom of the sea every day. In addition between March and June, is spearheading the “Mediterranean CleanUp” by incentivising local fishers to limit their regular activity and instead collect marine plastic from remote coastlines, helping the breeding and reproduction of fish. Enaleia also takes action to raise awareness about the protection of the seas by organising educational activities, beach and port clean-ups, with the participation of local volunteers, schools, international organizations, volunteer divers, and employees.
Enaleia now collaborates with more than 1.500 fishers and operates in 36 Greek locations as well as 4 Italian locations, like: Saronic gulf, Thermaic Gulf, Ambracian Gulf, Ionian Sea, Argolic Gulf, Crete, Dodecanese, Evia, Cyclades, Sporades, Northeastern Aegean, Emilia-Romagna.
Since the launch of the “Mediterranean CleanUp” (2018) more than 435.000 Kg of marine plastic has been collected, equivalent to 234 cars. It is worth noting that almost half of the marine plastic was collected in the last year. During the fishing season 2021-2022 about 198.000 Kg of marine plastic has been collected, of which: about 142.300 Kg was fished from the bottom of the sea, about 31.700 Kg was collected from prevention activities and about 24.000 Kg was collected from coastal, beach and port clean-ups.
Throughout the year, Enaleia, mobilizes the fishers in sustainable fishing techniques and to prevent further marine plastic pollution, collects the used fishing gear and other LDFG, that otherwise would end up in the sea or landfill.
Thanks to Enaleia’s circular economy network that consists of certified recycling and upcycling partners, the collected marine litter is managed and the biggest portion of it is integrated into the circular economy. Specifically, the collected marine plastic is certificated by Keep Sea Blue through its certification program and online Blockchain platform, which ensures full traceability of the material.
The nylon 6 nets are utilized by Healthy Seas and its partners to be transformed into sustainable products, like socks and swimwear. The collected PET (plastic bottles) is utilized by Ecoalf Foundation, to be transformed into sustainable fashion products like jackets and shoes. A part of the collected mixed plastic and fishing gear is sent to The Gravity Wave, to be transformed into sustainable products, such as furniture. In collaboration with Skyplast, Enaleia has achieved to transform more than 60% of the collected marine plastic into plastic pellets. With this raw material, various companies are able to produce almost any kind of sustainable product.
The “Mediterranean CleanUp” project is also made possible thanks to our partners, who are providing support for the implementation of our projects and activities. The “Mediterranean CleanUp” for the fishing season 2021-2022 was supported by the Costas M. Lemos Foundation (national partner), John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, Neraida Floating Museum, GANT (Notos Com Holdings), Nestlé Hellas, Nescafé, Cosmote, Mega Disposables, Pfizer Hellas, Konva, the Argolic Environment Foundation, Deloitte Greece, Unisea Shipping LTD, Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), Ecoalf Foundation, Healthy Seas, Green Print, OceanR and Gravity Wave.
The “Mediterranean CleanUp” operates under the auspices of the Hellenic Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy and the Hellenic Ministry of Environment & Energy. Enaleia has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Hellenic Ministry of Rural Development and Food.
“The fishers are saving the seas from plastic. We want to empower every fisher to catch plastic, bring it back to the port, and make sure that it will be integrated into the circular economy. That would create a huge global impact.” Lefteris Arapakis, Co-Founder and Director of Enaleia.
With the project “Mediterranean CleanUp,” the Co-founder and Director of Enaleia, Lefteris Arapakis, has been bestowed the honorary title of “Ambassador for the Mediterranean coast” for 2021-22 and has been named as “Young Champion of the Earth“ for 2020 by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
Enaleia is a social, non-profit organization with a vision to make the marine ecosystem sustainable through circular and social economy solutions. It started as the first school for professional fisheries in Greece and is now dedicated to research, education, and mega marine plastic clean-up projects, from the “Mediterranean CleanUp” in the Mediterranean Sea to the “Bahari Safi” in the Indian Ocean.