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Meet the #EWWRAwards finalists: The Gipuzkoa Province Council's artsy response to plastic pollution

The EWWR Awards finalists have been announced! In each category, the Jury has selected their top 3 finalists . The winners will be revealed on 15 May in Brussels during the EWWR Awards Ceremony. In the days and weeks to come, we will introduce you the nominees one by one. Today, we would like you to present you the action organised by the province of Gipuzkoa in the Basque Country, which sought to address plastic pollution in a very artistic way. This action was a finalist in the public administration category.


What did your action consist of?

The project was developed under the motto “From the sea to the table” #PláscticoAlPilPil (this hashtag is a Basque culinary reference, a typical way to cook the codfish).

The campaign consisted in generating artistic installations made with fishing nets in 31 towns in Gipuzkoa (towns with more than 5.000 habitants) as well as in different neighbourhoods in Donostia (Alza, Amara, Centro and Antiguo) with the objective of collecting discarded plastic bags and bottles for recycling and converting them into polyester fabric to make reusable bags.

This campaign was placed in all selected locations (Donosti, Irun, Errenteria, Eibar, Zarautz, Arrasate, Hernani, Tolosa, Lasarte-Oria, Hondarribia, Pasaia, Bergara, Andoain,Azpeitia, Beasain, Azkoitia, Oñati, Oiartzun, Zumarraga, Zumaia, Ordizia,Legazpi, Aretxabaleta, Urretxu, Usurbil, Urnieta, Lezo, Orio, Villabona, Astigarraga and Deba) at the same time from November 18 to 24.

The artistic installations consisted of a container (pot) made of rectangular fishing nets that were 1.5 metres wide and 3 metres long. The public was able to provide plastic bags and bottles to be discarded and put in the container. The net has several functions:

Once the European Week for Waste Reduction was over, the recovered plastics were processed and recycled by EkoRec (a Gipuzkoan company specialized in the recycling of PETs), which transformed them into fibres. The Sin Desperdicio brand (a Gipuzkoan company specialised in the making of accessories from recycled materials) used the resulting fibres to make bags and reusable shopping trolleys. The Emaus Foundation, which promotes social transformation through social inclusion and a social and solidarity economy, designed the items.

The bags and shopping trolleys created this way will be raffled using social media among the Guipuzkoans who have contributed to the plastic collection in the province. To participate, they had to take a photo of themselves depositing plastic material and upload it to social media using the aforementioned hashtag.

Collecting plastic bottles in Gipuzkoa
Collecting plastic bottles in Gipuzkoa

How did you come up with the idea?

We are all aware that the problem of plastic pollution in our seas is increasingly worrying because, as experts point out, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans if we do not make changes. That is why we should not look the other way; it is time to act. Local and regional actors have a lot of influence and we can help solve this global problem. We must think globally and act locally.

The aim of this action was to show the public the importance of selective collection and subsequent recycling of plastic; to explain
to them the problem of the plastic that is abandoned and it breaks down into microplastics in our seas and oceans; only to end up being ingestedby the fish that we later eat ourselves.

The Basque region is well known for its fishing tradition, so we decided to focus on this problem using artistic installations with a
container (pot) made of fishing nets to raise awareness that this is a local problem everywhere around the world.

Why is waste reduction important for you and your organization?

The Province Council of Gipuzkoa has various competences, ranging from culture and tourism, to youth and sports; governance and public communication; economic development, the rural environment and territorial balance; mobility and planning; public revenue and finance; road infrastructure; social policies; and environment
and water engineering.

This awareness campaign reflected the content of the policies (Directive 2018/851 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 2008/98/EC on waste), strategies, plans and programs that are being carried out by the European Union.

Where can people find you if they have questions?

https://www.gipuzkoa.eus/es/

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