Jean-Luc Linster is a regular at Upper Sûre lake, where he likes to enjoy the sunshine. Alongside the rest of the country and beyond, apparently.

Unfortunately the good weather seems bring out the worst in people: barrelling to the beaches in droves during the day and leaving mounds of waste and rubbish in their wake, so Linster.

Lack of infrastructure

The problem begins, according to Linster, with a lack of infrastructure. Without the possibility to get food on site, visitors bring their own picnics, the remnants of which are then found in the grass, near the containers and even in the water.

Anita Lanners of the Upper Sûre Natural Park admits that this is by no means a new problem, with a number of initiatives in collaboration with the municipality of Esch-sur-Sûre to reduce waste. However, despite recycling bins and available outdoor barbecues to prevent the use of unsafe, disposable ones has not produced the desired effect, with a large amount of rubbish still left behind.

Raising awareness through theatre

Many foreigners are unaware that the lake is home to drinking water resources, or that the beaches are located in the Natural Park, and as such the Upper Sûre Natural Park also tried to raise public awareness by employing actors to approach people on the beach in a fun way. The idea was to convey the importance of being aware and mindful of the natural environment.

The aftermath of disregard and neglect can be seen in these photos. Since they were taken on the last weekend of June – official cleaners only start working from the official season opening of July 1 onward – and it shows.

Two hours to clean a beach

Wiltz municipal workers and regional management and incentive employees are to pick up litter on the beaches three times a week and at weekends. The emptying of large containers is left to the Bridges and Roads authority. It takes two hours to clean a beach like the "Fuussefeld" after a sunny weekend.

Mayor Marco Schank ensured that the municipality of Esch-sur-Sûre as well as neighbouring municipalities were well aware of the problem of waste. On weekends like the last one in June easily saw between 8,000 and 10,000 visitors on Luxembourgish beaches. The area’s popularity caused difficulties not only in terms of rubbish, but also with traffic, and there was a move towards introducing parking and visitor management systems, according to Schank.

Further investments

Beach maintenance costs about €62,000 euros, with the commune of Esch-sur-Sûre responsible for 30%.  While installing more bins is not an option, new toilets, rental canoes and a stand for take away food are planned for Lëlz beach.

The problem of catering is currently trying to be fixed with a Food Truck. The condition was: zero waste! Greg Reinertz, the boss of "Flux", tries to keep the amount of waste to a minimum through drainage systems and reusable plastic bags. In order to avoid bottles and cans, he uses a kind of spray gun for soft drinks, charging 1 euro for soda and 1.5 euros for beer. With such low prices, the profit margin is necessarily reduced, explains Greg Reinertz, but the goal is to encourage visitors to eat and drink at home, instead of buying things from a gas station, only to leave what’s left behind. In the late evening, Greg and his team make sure that no junk has been left anywhere.

This season, the Haute Sûre Natural Park will try to collaborate with a security service: another measure in the fight against waste.