Agriculture Minister Petros Xenophontos on Tuesday warned of the dangers that plastic pollution poses for Cyprus and the world.

Speaking a day after World Environment Day, celebrated annually on June 5 since 1973 to encourage protection of the environment, Xenophontos said the event serves as a reminder to humanity that the wellbeing of future generations is directly linked to the state of the planet’s ecosystems.

This year’s theme is plastic pollution and ways to reduce its impact. In Cyprus, the issue especially affects the sea.

“Marine debris, particularly plastic pollution, poses a threat to the oceans, to marine wildlife and even to human health,” the minister said.

“When plastic waste ends up in the sea, it becomes microplastic, which the fish eat and, in turn, becomes our food.

“Beaches represent one of the main dumping sites for plastics and other waste. This is a major threat to our marine environment and an economic challenge for local municipalities that must deal with the seasonal increase in tourists and waste,” he said.

“Effectively addressing plastic pollution on coasts, as well as in seas and oceans all over the world requires joint efforts from all countries worldwide. The issue has no borders.”

He added that the significant environmental impact of plastic waste on tourism and on the fishing industry in Cyprus make the issue a priority for the agriculture ministry.

“Well-designed and functional waste management systems and the development of effective separate collection systems can significantly contribute to the prevention of marine pollution,” he said.

Cyprus needs to address the issue of plastic waste through the implementation of sustainable waste management policies, such as the mandatory installation of separate collection systems by local authorities, and the ban on several single-use plastic products.

Xenophontos added that the government is promoting several projects aimed at facilitating the separation of waste. The total cost of the projects amounts to €82 million.