United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Mediterranean CleanUp (MCU)


    We started operating in 2016 as the first professional fishing school in Greece. Among fishing in general, we also taught fishermen how to fish more sustainably. During that time, we discovered that fishermen also caught a significant amount of marine waste, mostly plastic, in their nets while fishing. This fact initiated us to start the MCU project. The MCU project aspires to implement a wide-scale clean-up of marine plastic in the Mediterranean ecosystem by utilizing the fishermen's network. The marine plastic collected by fishermen, both from the bottom of the sea and the renewal of their own equipment, are recycled and upcycled, being integrated into the circular economy.


    Our objectives are aligned with the below UN SDGs: - SDG 4: Focusing on lifelong learning and providing people that have never attended university with academic knowledge about plastic pollution, circular economy and marine environment sustainability. - SDG 8: We aim at creating local jobs in every port we operate and decent jobs in the fishing sector with fishermen catching more plastic and less fish. - SDG 12: Focusing on the need to integrate our waste into the circular economy (reuse, recycle, upcycle) and use fewer resources to produce new products is greater than ever. - SDG 13: We reduce the CO2 emissions needed to produce new products by 55% by using recycled plastic compared to virgin ones. - SDG 14: There can be no fishermen without fish, and this is something that we want the next generation of fishermen to understand.

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    As an organization, we focus not only on marine waste clean-ups but also on marine waste management and prevention in order to contribute to the circular economy, shedding light at the same time on the role of humans and society in this effort. In other words, our objectives – as they were described above- and our actions are multi-dimensional, focusing both on human and economic growth and environmental protection, always being aligned with the respective SDGs for 2030.

    Implementation methodologies

    Our main ongoing activities consist of: - Collection of the fishing equipment directly from the fishing trawlers whenever fishermen renew them. In a different case, that equipment (mainly nets and ropes) would end up at the bottom of the sea (Prevention). - Training of fishermen about the negative impacts of the marine waste to the environment but also to their jobs, motivating them to change their mindset and collaborate with us (Mitigation). - Collection of marine litter from the bottom of the sea (Remediation). Our current network consists of 150 fishing trawlers in 14 ports located mainly in Greece but also in Italy, with a capacity of removing 200,000 kg of marine litter per year. Our Executive Team consists of the below roles: - Project Manager (2 people): Responsible for the implementation of the operational plan and the monitoring of the procedures (from the bottom of the sea to the port and then to recycling/upcycling facilities). The role is split on a regional basis. - Policy & Finance Manager (1 person): Responsible for the implementation of the fundraising plan, the financial compliance and the coordination of partnerships. - Marketing Manager (1 person): Responsible for the implementation of the public awareness strategy with respect to our activities and the social media community engagement. - Port Managers (6 people): Responsible for the management of the local communities and the collection and storage of the collected marine litter. Our activities are already funded for the next five years by charitable foundations, private companies, in-kind sponsors and revenues from our own upcycled products.


    Below are the main outcomes of our ongoing activities through the MCU project: - We are able to remove about 200.000 Kg of marine litter from the sea annually, protecting the marine ecosystems and improving the human life conditions - 40 % of the collected marine plastic is upcycled into new products and the rest is recycled - We have created 10 well-paid jobs - We have mobilized raising the awareness on current environmental issues at the local communities of 14 ports, with 150 trawlers and more than 700 fishermen - We have increased the income of more than 700 fishermen (the vast majority of whom are low paid migrants) by 50 euro per month on average - We have trained more than 700 fishermen for collecting marine plastic and fish sustainably

    Factors and Constraints

    In 2018 in Greece, 4.082 volunteers made 124 coastal and 12 underwater cleanings, collecting 5 Tonnes, while at the same amount is collected every week via the MCU project, with much fewer resources. In addition, the cost of removing marine plastic from the seabed through our solution is, being a more effective and efficient way of cleaning, recycling and upcycling this marine plastic than the ones being used now worldwide (including cleaning cost but also the inclusion of this material in the circular economy). Thus, cost efficiency that is our biggest potential constraint has been proved our key enabler so far.

    Sustainability and replicability

    There is no territorial or other limitation in terms of the application of the MCU Project. Actually, Enaleia has already expanded its activities in other Mediterranean countries, like Italy. On top of that, there are many probabilities for Enaleia to reach other continents, beginning with South-East Asia, trying to transfer its knowledge and capabilities where the vast quantity of the global marine litter is located. Our target is to share our know-how to help other countries to apply what we have achieved successfully in Greece, optimizing the social and environmental benefits derived from our organization. In other words, wherever exist extended fishing communities and activities, there is the possibility these communities to get trained to fish litter, while at the same it is more than possible an effective waste management mechanism- like the one we have already implemented- to get a place in order to insert this marine litter into the circular economy.

    COVID-19 Impact

    Fortunately, the COVID-19 not only did not prevent the implementation of our project but also enabled our territorial expansion. This happened because while most sectors of the economy had to lockdown, the fishing sector was one of those that continued its activity. Consequently, our fishermen network continued to grow during all the pandemic period, enabling the collection of marine litter and its introduction to the circular economy. Of course, we had to face some issues in ports where the COVID-19 was widespread; however, the current size of our project is big enough to avoid this kind of risk.

    Contact Name
    Geographical coverage

    Greece & Italy

    01 February 2016 (start date)
    31 December 2030 (date of completion)
    Contact Information