Marine Litter

Marine litter, sometimes referred to as marine debris, is defined as any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed, discarded or abandoned into the marine environment - a lake, sea, ocean or waterway. United Nations Environment estimates that up to 80 per cent of all litter in our oceans is made of plastic (UNEP 2017). Every year at least 8 million tonnes, the equivalent of one full refuser truck per minute, of plastic find its way into the worlds oceans. 

Plastic waste in our oceans can only be stopped by people: by people thinking and acting differently, by people making recycling more worthwhile, by people creating a sustainable waste management worldwide – and by people actively supporting the promotion of infrastructure and legislation that support the advancement of waste management as part of a circular economy.

There is no doubt that both local and global environmental and resource efficiency failures play a big part in the current situation. The challenges of uncollected and improper disposal of municipal waste, must be met.

The challenges

The ISWA Marine Task Litter Force identified three key challenges in fulfilling our mission of establishing a sound waste management system, which will prevent plastic waste reaching our oceans:

Prevent littering and dumping of waste items, intentionally and unintentionally, in absence of suitable collection infrastructure.

  • Develop practices for sound collection and disposal of municipal waste

  • Identify and demonstrate realistic best practices that can be adopted by local, regional and national authorities.
  • Promote sufficient value of secondary plastics as part of a resource efficient circular economy.



How to prevent marine litter

Sound waste management practices are the key to reducing marine litter. Most materials that go on to become marine litter could be effectively intercepted before entering the aquatic environments by establish a sound waste management.

Sound solid waste and resource managment is the only major effective prevention because, on average, the majority of marine litter origniates from on-land activities, mostly as a result of usustainable solid waste management practices.