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Study to identify and assess relevant instruments and incentives to reduce the use of single-use and other items, which impact the marine environment as marine litter
Bullock, Craig; Dickie, Ian; Tinch, Rob
Marine litter is a serious and global environmental problem that is amongst the most challenging to address. This challenge arises from the various types of marine litter, the range of sources and the inadequacy of single options to address the problem. Regionally, the composition of marine litter varies, but its sources can be sea-based, coastal or exist well inland with litter carried by rivers to the sea where ocean currents transport it around the globe without respect for national borders. The ocean is a free access resource as regards its capacity to act as a sink for waste. Therefore, just as liquid pollutants have been piped out to sea without cost to the polluter, so marine litter can be associated with poor regulation or policing of the fishing, marine transport and cruise ship industries. However, marine litter is also a product of our consumer society and so is a problem that increases in severity with economic growth, development and wealth. This problem presents significant economic and environmental costs in terms of the evident and potential impacts to wildlife, tourism, functioning ecosystems, fish catches and human health. This report examines the particular contribution of single-use consumer items to marine litter. In beach surveys, these items are very prevalent and include bottle tops and caps, bottles, cans, food containers, crisp packets, sweet wrappers, sanitary products and balloons, amongst other identifiable items. The small size, colour and durability of these items means that they each present distinct environmental and ecological costs. One characteristic of this litter is that a very high proportion is comprised of plastic, typically different types of plastic polymers with varying levels of additives. Another characteristic is that much of this litter is represented by packaging, including its use as containers for food and drinks. There are measures that can be taken to address marine litter. These include some obvious candidates such as raising awareness of the problem and its environmental cost, enlisting the support of coastal communities to deal with the problem, and providing a sufficient number of bins to reduce the temptation to littering. These measures can be targeted to locations where there is a particular risk of litter finding its way into the marine environment, namely coastal resorts, but also areas beside rivers. Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
Keyword(s): Marine litter; Global environmental problem; Single-use consumer items; Economic and environmental costs; Ecological costs; Plastic; Littering; Circular economy
Publication Date:
2019
Type: Other
Peer-Reviewed: Unknown
Language(s): English
Institution: University College Dublin
Publisher(s): Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
First Indexed: 2019-05-11 06:31:43 Last Updated: 2019-05-11 06:31:43