Shoals of Ideas, Rivers of Plastic

plastic bottles

The shoals during the spring and summer period, are increasingly frequent due to climate change, have brought to light the presence of new rivers... yes, of plastic! Envelopes, butts, bottles, containers, cutlery, and all that is worthy of parading in the aberrant "cultural festival of disposable plastic", have become unwelcome and inappropriate guests of our river basins.

"Water scarcity in northern Italy brings out the plague of plastic pollution in our waterways as consequence of the abuse of disposable plastic components and packaging. The images show a typical South-East Asian countries scenario, where rivers are real open-air dumps. The water scarcity that has been characterizing the waterways of northern Italy for several weeks brings out, in all its gravity, the problem of plastic pollution and how waterways are now full of disposable containers and packaging ".

Po, Torretta in the municipality of Legnago, Verona

Thus, the head of the pollution campaign of Greenpeace Italy, Giuseppe Ungherese recently stated to ANSA. These declarations, in particular, refer to the situation of the Po River and its tributaries in the Lombardy-Veneto area, but, as can be clearly seen from Greenpeace's documentation and reporting activity, the scenario is the same in many areas of the our peninsula.

In addition to the aforementioned Po River, the conditions of other important Italian water basins are of greater concern. In the south-central areas there is a high rate of pollution in the Liri river; in addition to the sewage danger that constantly threatens this stream, which runs through numerous fields with intensive cultivation, in the last few months the size of a real open-air dump at the height of the municipality of Sora, in northern Lazio, is growing.

plastic in the river

With regard to the Tiber river, there are numerous monitoring and intervention initiatives to limit the waste situation in the river of the capital. A monitoring carried out by the naturalist biologist Valentina Braccia found 74 main points of accumulation of waste. On average one every 250 m where the current is very low. The prevailing typology consists of plastic bottles and bags, pieces of polystyrene, buoys and pieces of fishing nets. The problem is worse if we consider the great faunal variety that has always populated the banks of the Tiber: moorhens, gray herons, cormorants, mallards, egrets, are only part of a very rich birdlife. Similar situation for the Aniene river that in recent years has risen to the forefront of local chronicles due to the presence of numerous illegal dumps and toxic fires on the banks of the "wild river".

The black flag is awarded for pollution, both from the point of view of plastic and water, the Campania’s river called Sarno. Sarno, river from the course of about 24 km but with a particularly large basin - about 500km² - strongly worries experts and activists. The Sarno throughout the '900 was considered a faunal jewel, the scene of enchanting walks with a high naturalistic value. In recent months, Greenpeace is carrying out, in collaboration with The Blue Dream Project and the Polytechnic University of Marche and CNR-IAS, the tour of the Central Tyrrhenian to monitor plastic pollution in our seas . And in the area of ​​the Tyrrhenian sea the images that we saw at the mouth of the Sarno are truly a horrible sight.

mouth of the Sarno

We need a breakthrough. Without a decisive action this kind of situation can only degenerate over time. The production of disposable plastic by large companies does not diminish as desired and even politics seems to give unsatisfactory answers; almost all the rivers mentioned in this article are provided with the famous "plastic collect" grids. The results clearly demonstrate the superficiality and the occasional nature of this type of measures. More concrete, deeper, more sustainable answers are urgent: the planet is asking for it, Europe is asking for it ...