The majority of marine litter comes from land. Top sources include littering along the coastline and beaches, sewage treatment plants and storm water overflows, from rivers and badly managed landfills close to water ways. The amount of litter entering the seas from rivers is not fully understood, but early studies are showing them to be a major source of this kind of pollution; even cities far from the coast are still contributing to marine litter.

Awareness raising about littering plays an important part in prevention, and many of our members do valuable work in this area. However, Seas At Risk focuses on how EU legislation can best be altered to create the right legislative framework to end the creation of marine litter. A move to full resource efficiency and a circular economy is essential to end the throw-away, high consumption culture we have grown accustomed to. Single-use plastics are mostly unnecessary in our lives and represent a serious environmental problem. Waste must be seen as a valuable resource that should not be thrown away, and instead is reduced, reused and recycled.

More information

How to improve EU legislation to tackle marine litter (pdf), Institute for European Environmental Policy, London.

Bring waste full circle: how to implement the circular economy (pdf)

Marine Litter Manifesto for the European Seas (2013) (pdf)

Open letter to EU environment ministers on 'Reducing marine litter under the MSFD: Let’s not waste the opportunity', July 2012 (pdf)

ENGO advice document on marine litter for public consultations on the MSFD, April 2012 (pdf)

Manifesto for marine litter in the North East Atlantic, 2009 (pdf)