Europe’s Move Towards Plastic-Free Ocean



Ocean plastic is an ever-increasing challenge to the marine and coastal biodiversity. Plastic makes up to 85% of marine litter on European beaches. Marine litter costs the European Union economy some 900 Mio EUR per year. Most of the 165 Mio tons of marine litter currently in oceans accumulate in five oceanic gyres, gradually degrade into micro- and nanoplastics and may enter our food chain, e.g. through mussels or fish. Plastic in oceans may affect marine organisms due to entangling, ingestion or ghost fishing.

European institutions contribute with solutions from different perspectives. European Commission initiates new legislative initiatives (e.g. banning certain single-use plastic items), allocates funds to develop innovative solutions or to adjust ports infrastructure to receive waste from ships all across Europe. Fishermen are compensated for bringing ashore waste caught into their nets during normal fishing operations rather than dumping back into the sea. EU encourages industry to move from linear to circular plastic production, by significantly increasing use of recycled plastic. Awareness of kids and adults on oceans facing huge consequences from human actions is crucial to change our behaviour to more sustainable with avoiding plastic packaging and single-use items, using reusable water bottles and coffee cups, etc.

But Europe also supports, where relevant, the creative, inspiring, impactful solutions by collaborating with representatives from science, education, NGOs, governments and industry. A lot of scientific breakthroughs, innovative market solutions and good governmental practices exist and it is crucial the world knows about them.


Europe Oceans Marine plastic litter Science Innovation Maritime policy 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Maritime Innovation, Marine Knowledge and Investments, Maritime Affairs and FisheriesEuropean Commission BrusselsBrusselsBelgium

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