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Ministry and 25 organizations join forces to combat marine waste

Sailors, fishermen, beachgoers, and other citizens form a united front with the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark in eliminating marine waste. Flemming Mieth, CEO of Rostra Kommunikation, here talks about the campaign to eliminate marine waste (‘Sammen om et hav uden affald’).

Each year more than 1,000 tonnes of waste drift to shore and end up on Danish beaches—and that is only the tip of the iceberg, because more than two-thirds of the waste end up at the bottom of the sea. Large volumes of waste also end up in fishermen’s fishing nets.

Fortunately, the problem is attracting more and more attention in Denmark. A survey carried out for the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark by YouGov shows that 85 per cent of the Danes are concerned about the amount of waste in the sea, and that 51 per cent may have their trip to the beach ruined by waste on the beach. Waste in the sea and on the beach is, therefore, not just a global problem, but also a problem experienced in Denmark.

affald på strandWaste collected on the west coast of Jutland in 2017. Photo: Keep Denmark clean.

Joining forces to eliminate marine waste

This year, the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark is turning concern into action by implementing a campaign to eliminate marine waste (‘Sammen om et hav uden affald’) in collaboration with sailors’, anglers’, and commercial fishermen’s organizations. Beachgoers are also a campaign target group. Rostra Kommunikation has been chosen to help prepare and execute the campaign concept, strategy, and activities.

The campaign message is that all users of the oceans, beaches, and ports should join forces to eliminate marine waste. The campaign will inform citizens about the negative consequences of marine waste and offer practical advice to sailors, fishermen, and beachgoers so that they can avoid that their waste ends up in the sea. The campaign will also provide practical advice on how to clean up and hand out clean-up tools.

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Follow the campaign on www.mst.dk/havudenaffald

Campaign activities

A number of activities will be carried out during the campaign:

  • Collection of reports and knowledge about marine waste.
  • Analyses of views, knowledge, and behaviour in relation to marine waste.
  • Articles and fact sheets about the challenges associated with marine waste.
  • Partnerships with key organizations joining forces in the campaign to eliminate marine waste. Partners include the Danish Sailing Association (Dansk Sejlunion), Keep Denmark Clean, Danish Anglers’ Union (Dansk Sportsfiskerforbund), Danish Boating Association (Danske Tursejlere), Danish Fishermen’s Association, the tourism organization Aktiv Danmark (Dansk Turismefremme), Danish Anglers’ Association (Dansk Sportsfiskerforening ), etc.
  • Events at ports and beaches all over the country.
  • Production of campaign waste bag showing the partners and the campaign message.
  • Production of several postcards and stickers serving as information materials.
  • Production of 10 profile videos of the campaign’s partners. View the videos here.
  • Campaign video presenting the campaign message to the target groups. View the video here.
  • Campaign website, www.mst.dk/havudenaffald.
  • Facebook advertising.
  • Based on campaign analyses, useful advice has been prepared in collaboration with the partners to the fishermen to avoid marine waste.
  • The advice will be communicated later in the campaign to the target group as instruction videos and e-learning.

affaldspose 2

Campaign waste bag. Photo: Rostra Kommunikation.

Campaign message is spreading

Along with the initiatives, the campaign message has been communicated across many channels to the target groups. The message has also spread to other organizations, which are now organizing independent waste collections.

Examples of campaign results:

  • Collaboration with 25 organizations representing businesses, volunteers, authorities, and others using the sea, the beaches, and the ports. Some contribute with knowledge to the campaign, some participate in the campaign videos, some cooperate with the campaign on events, while others are co-senders of the campaign messages and materials or otherwise involved in the campaign.

  • Distribution of more than 400,000 campaign waste bags to more than 10,000 of holiday rentals company Novasol’s holiday homes. Holiday home guests receive waste bags and postcards when they are handed the keys to their holiday home throughout the summer period.

  • Collaboration with the Aktiv Danmark tourism organization, where more than 40 Visit organizations, campsites, B&Bs, hotels, and other businesses have ordered the campaign waste bag, postcards, and stickers to be handed out to visitors and guests.

  • Extensive coverage of the campaign on social media, where several collaboration partners have taken the initiative to create even more press coverage of the campaign.

  • Collaboration with Keep Denmark Clean. With more than 1,000 tonnes of waste washing up on the beaches every year, marine waste is a huge challenge on the West Coast of Denmark. In collaboration with Keep Denmark Clean, the campaign has therefore sent 160,000 waste bags to the municipalities on the West Coast. The campaign was also a part of the large waste collection event Nordic Beach Cleaning Day.

  • So far, eight events have been held, where the campaign hands out information material and talks about the campaign throughout the country on beaches and at ports. Beachgoers have shown considerable interest in the campaign. A total of 10 events are held during the campaign period.

  • Coverage of the campaign in newspapers, journals, magazines, and on the radio.

Facts about marine waste

Marine waste is a global problem, but also a major challenge in Denmark.

  • The municipalities’ international environmental organization (KIMO Denmark) estimates that 1,000 tonnes of marine waste are being collected each year in Western Jutland.
  • DTU Aqua has found plastic in the stomachs of 39 per cent of all cod and 23 per cent of all herring examined from the North Sea. For the Baltic Sea, the figures are 21 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively.

  • DTU Aqua has found plastic in the stomachs of almost every third herring and whiting examined from the Great Belt—the plastic pieces were up to 0.5 cm long.

  • According to reports from the European Environment Agency, marine waste has been found in 36 per cent of all sea bird species.

  • A study from OSPAR has shown that 93 per cent of the examined sea birds of the fulmar species washed up on North Sea beaches had plastic waste in their stomachs.

  • According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 70 per cent of the waste end up at the bottom of the sea, 15 per cent wash up on the shores, and 15 per cent float on the surface of the sea.

  • An estimated 90 per cent of the waste on the sea surface consist of plastic (source: UNEP).

  • Globally, there are an estimated 640,000 tonnes of lost fishing gear in the sea, including so-called ‘ghost nets’, which in some cases can continue to trap fish and other marine animals for decades (source: European Environment Agency, EEA).

The article is written by Flemming Mieth, CEO of Rostra Kommunikation.

Published 6 September 2018.