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Divers tackle a sea bed ‘garbage dump’

Bundle: A diver gathers tyres

VOLUNTEER divers have taken on a challenging mission — clearing tons of rubbish from the sea floor near Athens.

One of them, George Sarelakos, said: ‘Most beaches are tidied by municipalities. But the big problem is on the seabed. It’s like a garbage dump.’

Within an hour, Mr Sarelakos and four companions brought up large clumps of rubbish, mostly old tyres, tied into bundles with rope. ‘All this is death for sea life,’ he said. ‘It’s a problem that most people are totally unaware of.’

Bundle: A diver gathers tyres PICTURES: AP

Greece is part of a 12-year EU programme to reduce plastic waste. But it has faced major disadvantages — its waste management system was largely neglected during a decade-long financial crisis, and its coastline (nearly double the length of India’s) is the longest in the EU.

And its rate of single-use plastic consumption has raised concerns. The EU wants to have consumers using no more than 40 lightweight plastic bags annually by 2025.

The current figure in Greece is 296.