Marine Litter Prevention – Reducing plastic waste leakage into waterways and oceans through circular economy and sustainable waste management

Author: Pascal Renaud, Joachim Stretz, Jacky Lateheru, Rabah Kerbachi
Year of Publication: 2018
Published: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

Significantly reducing marine pollution by 2025, as envisaged by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, requires concerted international action. Several international forums have adopted declarations and action plans to achieve this. A crucial challenge lies in translating global commitments into national, regional and local action. This study deals with the question of how decision-makers can improve their municipal solid waste management systems and move towards a circular economy in order to prevent plastic leakage into waterways and the ocean. It focuses on plastic waste from human settlements as a substantial share of marine litter consists of plastics stemming from land-based sources. In contrast to organic waste, which also enters waterways, plastics are durable and degrade only slowly into ever-smaller particles, which impact marine ecosystems.

The study outlines potential approches to prevent marine plastic litter and analyses the situation in two local contexts in Southeast Asia and North Africa. It is based on an extensive literature review as well as field visits, observations and interviews in Sidoarjo Regency, Indonesia, and Annaba Province, Algeria. A methodological approach is elaborated to assess plastic waste leakage in qualitative and quantitative terms, enabling deeper understanding of these characteristically chaotic plastic waste flows. While the context of each case study is different, the analyses and recommendations will also be relevant for other municipalities and regions.

The two case studies underline the need for action at local and regional level. They show that plastic waste enters into the riverine and marine environment through various pathways. Sidoarjo in Indonesia generated an estimated 7’616 t of marine plastic litter in 2017 or 3.17 kg per inhabitant. This is equivalent to one plastic bottle of 30g thrown into the ocean every 3 to 4 days by each of its inhabitants. It is estimated that the Algerian province of Annaba contributed 1’494 t of marine plastic litter in 2017 or 2.09 kg per capita – the same as throwing one plastic bottle into the ocean every 5 days. Whilst demonstrating the need to act, these two case studies also show that marine litter can be avoided if stakeholders take appropriate measures.

reducing marine pollution, solid waste management system, circular economy, plastic waste, land-based sources, Indonesia, Algeria

Renaud, P.,  Stretz, J., Lateheru, J., Kerbachi, R., 2018. Marine Litter Prevention – Reducing plastic waste leakage into waterways and oceans through circular economy and sustainable waste management.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH,