Marine litter

Combatting marine litter: Plastics Europe is a committed signatory of the Declaration for Solutions on Marine Litter and Operation Clean Sweep®, which aims to reduce the effects of ocean pollution.

Marine litter is a growing problem that has attracted significant public attention over recent years.
The plastics industry believes that plastics are a valuable resource that bring numerous benefits to modern society, significantly contributing to sustainable solutions. They deplore plastic waste found in the environment, whether caused by irresponsible behaviour or poor waste management.

The causes of marine litter are numerous and complex and cannot be solved by one stakeholder group alone. As an industry, we are determined to drive multi-stakeholder action on the issue both in Europe and at the international level. Whatever its origin, plastic waste in any environment is unacceptable, and the plastic industry is committed to continuing its collaborative partnerships to tackle the problem at source.

As plastics industry, we focus our efforts on secondary microplastics and pellet losses, while for the other microparticles, this is tackled by a broader alliance with the textiles, tires, paint and cosmetics industries, through other associations like CEFIC.

Marine Litter Solutions

To create a platform for action, since 2011 a total of 80 world plastics organisations in 43 countries have signed the global Declaration for Solutions on Marine Litter.

By pledging the declaration, each of these associations voluntarily committed to adopt additional improvements to reduce the effects of ocean pollution and agreed to focus their efforts on these six key objectives:

Raising awareness.

Research for facts.

Promoting best practices.

Sharing knowledge.

Enhanced recovery.

Preventing pellet losses.

According to the most recent progress report from June 2020, approximately 395 marine litter projects have been planned, or are underway, or completed around the globe. Projects range in size, focus, and scope, and involve an ever-growing number of partners. All are forging cooperation and furthering progress to reduce and prevent marine litter, and improve understanding of how best it can be eliminated.

For more information, visit the Marine Litter Solutions website.

Operation Clean Sweep®

As to the potential loss of the industry’s own pre-production plastics pellets, Plastics Europe and its members are vigilant about strengthening the enforcement of stewardship programmes, in particular the Operation Clean Sweep® initiative. OCS promotes proper pellet containment along the entire plastic value chain.

The plastics industry is actively promoting the programme via plastic producers, converters, distributers, logistics and recyclers and their related associations. As it requires a full value chain approach, which must be a joint effort and commitment in order to succeed.

To date, many large multinational plastics producers, covering the majority of Europe’s production and facilities, have signed the Operation Clean Sweep® pledge or implemented similar programmes. We count 14 associations in Europe addressing pellet loss with dedicated initiatives and, together, we will grow in number.

More information can be found on

Other Plastics Europe initiatives and events

In addition, other Plastics Europe initiatives, such as Zero Plastics To Landfill contribute to sustainable solutions for tackling marine litter. We also organize stakeholder events such as IdentiPlast and PolyTalk and we intensively promote the implementation of Life Cycle Thinking methodology tools to help reduce leakage of plastic products into the environment.

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