Marine litter is a complex issue that is rooted in our patterns of production and consumption and how we deal with waste. The interactive report produced by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and its European Topic Centre for Inland, Coastal and Marine Waters (ETC ICM) aims at assessing marine litter from source to sea, emphasizing the causalities between socio-economic drivers, pressures, and the state of pollution in Europe’s coastal and marine environments.
This comprehensive and integrated study includes (i) material flow analyses and comparison of the shares and amounts of plastic packaging waste mismanaged in 2012 and 2018 in the 32 EEA countries + UK, as well as in coastal areas; (ii) scope of estimations of riverine litter discharged into European seas; (iii) literature review and indicator-based assessment of the status of marine litter pollution in relation to specific thresholds; (iv) appraisal of the perceived situation in relation to European policy objectives and targets.
Regional differences in terms of pressures and state of litter pollution emerge from the study. The assessment shows that efforts in improving waste management in Europe, even if evident, are insufficient to offset an intensification in plastic production and waste generation and reduce the amount of mismanaged plastic waste that may end up in the environment. In fact, most of the assessed areas in terms of marine litter pollution were classified as “potential problem areas”, and the situation may deteriorate if the trend in the level of pressure is not reverted.
The interactive report is available from the EEA website: From source to sea — The untold story of marine litter.
The detailed ETC ICM report, co-authored by our experts, is available from the Eionet website: ETC/ICM Report 5/2022: Marine Litter in Europe - An integrated assessment from source to sea.
Cover photo: Gašper Šubelj, 2022