An Overview Of Our Solution
The main goal of the project is to avoid the overconsumption of bottled water in the Balearic Islands. This is a deep-rooted behaviour that generates a large volume of plastic waste putting marine life at high risk. The research includes the consumption behavior, the territorial analysis of water quality, the determination of alternatives, finally the public presentation of the data with a social impact campaign. The project is being carried out in the framework of the Balearic Islands Without Plastics Programme. This is an initiative by the Save The Med Foundation that focuses on the Mediterranean marine pollution caused mostly by the indiscriminate use of single-use plastics that put fragile local ecosystems and people's health at risk.
- Population Impacted
- Continent: Europe
The quality of tap water in the Balearic Islands has traditionally been considered harmful to human consumption. This perception has resulted in the entrenchment of social behaviour, which encourages people to use bottled water indiscriminately. In addition, there is a dependence on tourism which generates high human environmental impact - according to the Human Pressure Indicator (HPI). Taking all into account, the Balearics represents one of the highest rates of plastic bottle water consumption in Spain namely: each citizen drinks almost 175 litres of bottled water per year that results in 600 kilos of waste generated/citizen. Moreover, the recycling system has reached its limits; only 30% of the generated plastic is recycled. According to a recent study, all the coasts of the Balearic Islands are contaminated by plastics and bottles and their caps being one of the most commonly found elements.
Describe the technical solution you wanted the target audience to adopt
The problem of excessive consumption of bottled water in the Balearic Islands does not have a single solution. However, water quality parameters of the region could be applied. The H.A.P.I. (Honest Alternative Plastic Index) has taken into account a series of criteria that qualify the product/system/process according to its effect on the environment. It is a tool that determines which system or process options exist for homes, commercials and industrial establishments in the Balearic Islands to have drinkable water. One of the objectives of the BSP program is to measure the impact generated by SUP used by the partners. Furthermore, they want to be able to compare them numerically with the proposed alternatives which can replace them. This index quantifies the impact on a 1 to 10 scale: assigning 10 points to the most polluting product, the disposal alternative and 0 points to the zero waste alternative, with intermediate scores according to the impact.
Behavioral Levers Utilized
As needed, please explain how you utilized the lever(s) in more detail.
To enable the Mediterranean Sea to recover its rich biodiversity and to thrive in harmony with prospering, environmentally conscious and proactive local populations a combination of strategies are carried out:
- Popularization of science, the publication of reference data to generate knowledge
- Educational programs for primary and secondary schools.
- Training for workers, entrepreneurs and university students.
- Non-competitive challenge for the creation of solutions to plastic pollution.
- projects to promote protection and linkage with marine protected areas (AMP).
- Campaigns that link the population.
- Coastal actions for waste collection.
- Alliances and collaboration agreements with the academic world, private companies, government, and NGO’s, in the articulation of solutions against marine pollution by plastics.
- Advocacy in public policies to reduce marine pollution and AMP.
Describe your implementation
The Balearic Sense Plástic Programme is modelled as an Environmental Management System which establishes priority of waste prevention. From BSP's diagnostic database, we’ve identified that the consumption of plastic bottled water is a major problem among our partners. To address this social and environmental challenge, the Water Project was created. This initiative would allow solutions to be formulated and replace plastic bottled water, for the whole of Balearic society. The project which began in 2019 consists of:
A1: RESEARCH OF THE CONSUMPTION BEHAVIOR
A2: DETERMINATION OF WATER QUALITY
A3: DETERMINATION OF ALTERNATIVES
A4: PRESENTATION, CAMPAIGN AND ACTION PLAN
The actions carried out with the community by: the creation of synergies with local stakeholders, the awareness, information actions and the social support to our organization. In 2019, we were awarded three times and guaranteed the success of the operations carried out in the reduction of the risk of contamination by plastics. Moreover, the high social awareness of plastic pollution, the high values of corporate social responsibility and the new Law on Waste and Contaminated Soils of the Balearic Islands, which legislates and regulates the sale and distribution of SUP, constitute a favorable framework.
The first obstacle is the lack of data transparency on the quality of public water: To resolve this issue we have involved the public assistance to carry out a campaign to request data. However, Covid-19 affected the tourism industry in such a way that we were forced to stop the launch of the Action Plan, which was postponed to the first quarter of 2021. COVID also brought us a new challenge, “the indiscriminate use of disposable products motivated by the false perception of security”. In order to resolve this, we launched the Define Human Campaign. We prepared local purchase guides and COVID Guides for partners. The activities, workshops and face-to-face meetings were moved to ONLIN
Describe the leadership for your solution. Who is leading the implementation?
Leadership is provided by the board of Save The Med Foundation whose mission is to achieve the regeneration of the Mediterranean Sea and its work is based on two fundamental areas of work: the reduction of plastic pollution and the creation of marine protected areas. To achieve this, it has a team of professionals who work together from the fields of science, environment, education, culture, communication and psychology. The organisation works closely with the community and leads actions to raise awareness, educate and reduce the risk of marine pollution by plastics. STM has social support which translates into corporate and individual partners.
Share some of the key partners or stakeholders engaged in your solution development and implementation.
BSP works closely with relevant economic and social actors. In one hand, all those who help to improve the structure and content of the programme, such as academia, the third sector, waste managers, public administration, local producers and the tourism industry. On the other hand, those who act as amplifiers and publicise the service and its benefits, such as innovation and industrial clusters, associations or federations of innovation and tourism companies. STM works hard to generate these synergies to achieve innovation, with alliances that guarantee the scientific and technological support required by continuous improvement processes. In this sense, collaboration and knowledge transfer agreements have been signed with TIRME (Environmental Technology Park of Mallorca), the University of the Balearic Islands, MOU with the Ministry of the Environment and Territory, the Balearic Islands Tourism Strategy Agency and the German Association for Sustainable Tourism, Futouris.
Who adopted the desired behavior(s) and to what degree? Include an explanation of how you measured a change in behavior.
The BSP Partners adopted the changes with a possible reduction of up to 181922,295 kg per year of SUP. The educational community - which is impacted through the educational program Dos Manos where every year 2500 students participate - is contemplating the realization of projects to reduce the SUP. Campaigns to influence public policy, such as the water campaign encourages measures for example Palma Town Hall initiated a project to improve the quality and taste of tap water.
How did you impact water pollution? Please be specific and include measurement methodology where relevant.
Our vocation and objective is to be present in the implementation of new dynamics that allow us to consolidate the trend to reduce consumption of single-use plastics. Accompany the partners to consolidate alternatives and jointly evaluate the impact of the measures adopted to be able to extrapolate the actions that allow the reproduction of this consumption pattern in other economic and social areas. All customers are valuable to disseminate their achievements to a large extent through communication and thus, reach more people with the message we want to convey. The Balearic Islands have 1,176,627 inhabitants, but the population grows exponentially during the summer months reaching 16,332,782 including local people and tourists. The demographic scope is highly important to generate a solid base that allows us to talk about a large-scale projection we are undertaking.
How has your solution impacted equity challenges (including race, gender, ethnicity, social class/income, or others)?
The consumption of single-use plastic packaging products and systems imposes a financial burden on consumers. In Spain, the families - with more than 3 members and retired people - who consume more bottled water. Both groups are the most sensitive.
The bulk of workers in the tourism industry are worth mentioning as well. In the pilot phase of the program, our partners providing tourism products or services mostly reached more than 1100 employees: 60% women, 40% men and mostly nationals. Due to these statistics, our program designed a workshop for families and a training of blue-collar workers, in which both knowledge is promoted, relevant environmental concepts are introduced and dialogues of good practices are presented.
What were some social and/or community co-benefits?
Firstly, the visibility of the problem accounts for a great achievement. This could happen because local and international stakeholders were cooperating, environmental impacts have been diagnosed, joint measures and strategies allowed a change of paradigm to introduce improvement and reduce the risk of plastic contamination in the Balearic Sea.
What were some environmental co-benefits?
Plastic particles are a source of pollution throughout their life cycle: starting from the extraction of raw materials, production, transport and through waste management but also in their use. By now, it is known that the additives funding in these products affect health. The elimination of these products from the consumer's cycle would generate environmental benefits.
What were some sustainable development co-benefits?
A recent European ban on single use plastics (and a waste law in the Balearics) restrict the use of some plastic products. The same awareness rising in the population regarding plastic pollution causes in society exigencies with respect to products consumed and services requested. Environmentally-sound marketing practices are an added value that our partners will obtain from our program. Our value proposition is our tool to measure/compare their impact and communicate their achievements.
Sustainability: Describe the economic sustainability of your solution.
As the project was set up within a non-profit organisation, BSP was self-financed from its own resources with: structured fundraising strategy, through membership fees, collaborators, supporters, public fundraising and collection of services provided through competition for grants, awards, participation in conventions. However, it already generates its own income from services offered to companies through the Programme. A standard contribution proposal is divided in the evaluation and action plan and budget accordingly. Each phase of the programme is budgeted according to the activities involved, and the needs of each company may cause the budget to vary according to the clients.
Return on investment: How much did it cost to implement these activities? How do your results above compare to this investment?
Since the beginning of the project, around two hundred thousand euros have been invested in the design, development and implementation of the program, still in the consolidation phase, which has had a high environmental impact. Only 45 partners of BSP will stop generating 181922,295 kg of plastic waste, projecting to impact 25% of the tourism industry of approximately 8 thousand companies in the Balearic Islands, thus the reduction in the generation of plastic waste will be overwhelming. In the economic sphere, the resources for the services provided guarantee to their self-sustainability. Finally, the social impact is not only on the consumption habits of tourism companies (target group) but on tourists and society in general.
How could we successfully replicate this solution elsewhere?
Our vocation and objective is to be present in the implementation of the new dynamics that will allow us to transform and consolidate trends to reduce single-use plastics consumption in the Balearic Islands and the Mediterranean region. To this end, BSP is preparing its strategy in both, replicating its methodology and gathering information, documentation and evaluation enabling it to reproduce in other areas or regions. The identification of stakeholders in the tourism business sector (the most polluting industry), waste managers, distributors, governments, academia, the third sector and other organisations, both public and private, is fundamental for the achievement. A pilot project has already been launched in eastern Spain and an alliance has been established with organisations in the Balearic Islands to achieve a common certification.