Approximately Eighty percent of marine pollution originates from land-based human activities. Different types of pollutants (e.g. nutrients, heavy metals, Persistent Organic Pollutants, marine litter) affect marine and coastal ecosystems and related economic activities such as fishing or tourism.
Waste management has become a major concern for Mediterranean countries where waste represents an enormous loss of resources in the form of both materials and energy. Due to the large share of the population and human activities located in coastal regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea, waste is a significant pressure on coastal and marine environments, causing visual pollution and contributing to beach and marine litter. Such threats to the coast and sea are especially significant in areas where coastal dumpsites are still used or are used without rehabilitation.
The Strategic Action Plan (SAP-MED) is a long-term policy framework to combat pollution from land-based sources in the Mediterranean. SAP-MED foresees for urban solid waste management the reduction at source, separate collection, recycling, composting and environmentally sound disposal by 2025. The Regional plan on Marine litter Management (2013) boosts the application of the waste hierarchy as a priority order in waste prevention and management legislation and policy, i.e.: prevention, preparing for re-use, recycling, other recovery, e.g. energy recovery and environmentally sound disposal (UNEP/MAP, 2015).
With regard to Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) generation, Figure 3.12 shows generation of MSW for 2003, 2007 and-2011 for the Mediterranean region and per country, while Figure 3.13 shows the generation of MSW per capita for 2003, 2007 and 2011 per country.
Overall it is noted that:
- An overall reduction trend on MSW generation has been identified in the Mediterranean region for the period 2003-2011; however, this regional trend needs to be further confirmed with data missing from some countries for certain years.
- As for MSW generation per capita per year, the highest rates are close to 600 kg/capita/year. The lowest rates in the region are between 200-300 kg/capita/year.
- Most EU countries show collection rates near 100% while the other countries vary between 40-85%.
- Open air dumping is a common disposal method in several Mediterranean countries.
- Recycling and composting are not common in most Mediterranean countries.
Industrial pollution is generated on a wide scale along the Mediterranean coastline. Industrial pollution is one of the major environmental pressures addressed by the Land-Based Protocol
(LBS) of the Barcelona Convention and its related policy and regulatory framework, at both regional
and national levels, e.g. the Strategic Action Programme SAP MED and the National Action Plans (NAPs) to combat pollution from land-based sources and activities. Most of the countries are making significant efforts to control pollution from this source by developing specific strategies for dealing with wastewater treatment, solid waste management and abatement of air pollution, and are issuing, inter alia, legislation on Effluent Limit Values (ELVs) for specific industrial sectors and/or specific pollutants, as well as Environmental Quality Standards (EQSs) for the receiving waterbodies (EEA-UNEP/MAP, 2014).
Regarding the releases of pollutants to the marine environment from industrial development, according to the National Baseline Budget (NBB) data for 2003, 2008 and 2013 (UNEP/MAP, 2015) pollutants most emitted/ discharged in 2003 are hydrocarbons (minerals), BOD5
and sulphur oxides (SOx/SO2). In 2008, pollutants most emitted/ discharged are oils and greases (organic), carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxides (NOx/NO2). In 2013, atmospheric pollutants such as Nitrous Oxide (N2O), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx/NO2) and Sulphur Oxides (SOx), and BOD5 are the most emitted pollutants in the region (Figure 3.14). Regarding the key industrial sectors, waste and wastewater management, mineral industry, energy sector and chemical industry show general increasing trends from 2003 to 2013, while production of metals, paper and wood processing and food and beverage sector present particular decreasing trends from 2008 to 2013 (Figure 3.15).
SAP MED sets specific pollution reduction targets for 33 different substances emitted from land based sources to be achieved by 2010 and 2025. In this regard, Table 3.1 shows the level of achievement, based on NBB 2003, 2008 and NBB, E-PRTR 2013 data, of such SAP MED targets for the whole Mediterranean region.