Monaco Resident Tackles Billion Dollar Cost Of Marine Plastic Pollution

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Berit Legrand with Prince Albert

Berit Legrand with Prince Albert. Photo: TAF

In its 2019 report “The Price Tag Of Plastic Pollution,” Deloitte estimated the annual cost of marine plastic pollution—some 80% of which is tied to land-based sources like bottles, bags and plastic packaging—between $6 billion to $19 billion a year to key economic sectors for coastal communities in Europe, Asia, Africa, Middle East, the Americas and Oceania.

In the same year the report came out, over 100,000 tons of waste—including one ton in Monaco—was collected on World Cleanup Day, a global initiative started by the NGO “Let’s Do It World. Plastic waste is believed to cost up to $33,000 per ton in reduced environmental value according to a study published last year by Marine Pollution Bulletin.

The year’s waste collection falls on Saturday, September 19, and Monaco again will be one of 180 countries participating, with four free eco-pickup teams in La Turbie, the port, the Rock and a run along the Cap d’Ail coastal path. All four groups are limited to 30 and registration has been closed.

For those who would still like to volunteer for World Cleanup Day, Monaco resident Berit Legrand, founder of the non-profit association The Animal Fund (TAF), is organizing a 2-hour pollution pickup in Nice leaving from Neptune beach in front of the Negresco Hotel this Saturday at 9 a.m. Gloves and bags will be provided but participants need to bring their own masks. Post-cleanup refreshments from local brewery Blue Coast Brewing will be served at a TAF tent at Centenaire beach.

Launched in Monaco five years ago, TAF focuses on educating the public about the dangers the ocean and its marine life are facing. “We have chosen to concentrate on the environmental aspects, especially plastic pollution and stopping the use of single use plastic while ensuring their replacement with alternatives,” says Legrand, who has since opened a branch in France (2017) and the U.K. (2019), where they collaborate with a broad range of schools and universities. They also have a presence in Benelux and Scandinavia.

“Our main priorities are children and youth as they are our future generation who will be most affected,” the Dane adds.

In addition to their three campaigns—The Plastic Bottle, The Plastic Straw (8.3 billion are scattered on our coastlines) and Airline Waste Management (the average passenger generates 1.4 kilograms of waste per flight, IATA reports)—TAF’s Toxic Sunscreen program works with U.K. trustee Daniele de Winther of InsideOut Beauty from Monaco to create the 100% organic TAF Ocean Lover sunscreen (98% of sunscreens contain ingredients harmful to human health).

Since 2015, TAF has grown to 1,500 supporters and members who in addition to volunteering at clean-up operations on land and at sea, assist at educational stands in schools and events, host conferences and presentations in Monaco and are present at sports races (TAF hold’s a “Whalethon” with ambassador Paula Radcliffe). Legrand admits, “Over the years, we have witnessed an overall increased awareness in the importance of protecting our oceans and seen a shift in the general public about replacing plastic items with alternatives.”

A member of the Monaco water ski team who also has her black belt in kirate, Legrand is particularly “thrilled” to see a huge interest among students in Monaco and elsewhere getting involved in the numerous environmental issues TAF covers but she adds, “It is hard to see dramatic changes if we do not dare to stand out and find alternative solutions.

“Marine life protection is also about politics and money. Income can indeed be generated via new environmentally friendly solutions. And this is, in my opinion, a must to find before we can see a big change in ocean and marine life protection.”

For more on reducing waste, see “Trimming Your Waste Line” in the September/October edition of Forbes Monaco currently in newsstands.

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Nancy Heslin is an established journalist and lifestyle writer. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Monaco magazine (bimonthly in English) , since the magazine's 2nd issue . Launched in November 2018, Forbes Monaco is part of the Forbes family, with its 7 million readers and 71 million monthly website visitors worldwide.