A challenge of planetary scale

The use of plastic as a part of our daily life continuously increases. In many places, there is a complete lack of or poor waste management systems and infrastructure, which directly impacts the quantities of plastic discarded into marine areas. In other places, there is insufficient monitoring and law enforcement to establish sustainable waste management practices. The market for secondary plastics is problematic, as there is a prevailing lack of understanding of technical challenges, social consumption patterns and littering behaviours, and the general impact of unplanned tourism and fishing industry.

Plastic marine litter is yet another reminder, alongside climate change, of the serious global impact generated by millions of local inappropriate actions and inactions within the waste disposal system.

In this respect, plastic marine litter provides an opportunity to demonstrate and make the impact of improper waste management and the urgent need for a shift to a sustainable circular economy easily understood.

Marine litter damages ecosystems, and marine-based economic sectors, such as tourism and fisheries. It also impacts other aquatic environments that are vital for human societies, such as rivers. The extent of marine litter is now global, with plastic particles having been detected in all of the world's oceans, reaching the most remote or human untouched environments, and even in the food chain.