Why this story matters:
Capraia's latest initiative, announced at the end of May, requires all fishing coolers to be made of biodegradable materials. Most fishermen use coolers made of polystyrene -- one common type being Styrofoam -- to store and transport fish once they've been caught.
Styrofoam, however, never decomposes, and, since it floats, it accumulates along coastlines and has become a main source of marine debris.
Capraia, which measures just 20 square kilometers, is also the first island in the Mediterranean to get its electricity entirely from renewable sources thanks to an experimental plant powered by biodiesel.
Other projects include sustainable management of building construction, mobility, waste disposal, water, agriculture, fishing, tourism and port activity.
The efforts come at a critical time in energy and coastal conservation efforts, with scientists estimating that 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in the oceans and seas each year.
Details from the story:
- The island of Capraia is now requiring all fishing coolers be made from a new biodegradable material called BioFoam in an effort to reduce marine litter.
- The initiative is part of its “Smart Island” program, which launched in 2017 to develop environmental policies and provide a model that could be exported to other small islands in the Mediterranean —--as well as replicated globally.
- “Plastic waste is undeniably a big issue and Europeans need to act together to tackle this problem, because plastic waste ends up in our air, our soil, our oceans, and in our food,” Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said.
- Islands such as Capraia have not been waiting for a top-down approach, however, given that islands are among the first to experience the devastating effects of marine pollution and climate change on local ecosystems and livelihoods.
- Last week, the European Commission proposed a ban on single-use plastic products such as straws, and suggested shifting the clean-up burden to manufacturers to reduce marine litter.