Tackling Marine Debris

Plastic waste is one of the biggest threats to the world’s oceans. More than 8 million tons of plastic leak into the ocean each year – the equivalent of dumping a garbage truck of plastic every minute. This damages marine ecosystems, harms wildlife and causes adverse impacts to human health.

Global Cooperation to Reduce Marine Litter

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP)’s advocacy to address the issue of marine litter in the effort to #BeatPlasticPollution has garnered international action. The Global Partnership on Marine Litter, coordinated by UNEP, brings together governments, civil society, local authorities, academia and the private sector to find realistic solutions to reducing and managing marine litter. The partnership enhances international cooperation to reduce the impact marine litter has on economies, ecosystems, animal welfare and human health worldwide.

Plastic Reduction Campaign

Supporting the Global Partnership on Marine Litter, the Clean Seas campaign, launched by UNEP in 2017, aims to eliminate major sources of marine litter by 2022. The campaign, which focuses on single-use plastics and micro-plastics in cosmetics, urges governments to pass plastic reduction policies, pushes industry to minimize plastic packaging and calls on consumers to change their habits. Singer-songwriter and UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Jack Johnson engages fans through the campaign while also encouraging venues to eliminate single-use plastics while touring.

Regional Initiatives

In North America, UNEP is working achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 by reducing marine debris along the Mississippi River, America’s greatest waterway. In coordination with National Geographic Society, the University of Georgia, and the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI), UNEP has launched the Mississippi River Plastic Pollution Initiative, which works with volunteer citizen scientists from local communities to record data on the state of plastic pollution along the river. This data is being used to generate a ‘plastic pollution map’ to help policy makers, business and citizens take action.

UNEP North America also works with partners, such as American cartoonist Jim Toomey, to address marine litter by raising awareness and sharing best practices. The “Two Minutes on Oceans with Jim Toomey” video series showcases how individuals can take action to reduce marine litter.

Two Minutes on Oceans with Jim Toomey