Marine litter

Reduce waste in the marine environment

Every day 8 million of waste ends up in the biggest bin of modern societies: the Ocean.

Marine mammals are choking; oceans are suffocating and Mankind is under threat: such pollution holds many negative consequences for the environment. Only a reduction at the source will ensure a sustainable and efficient fight against such catastrophe.

Steps of our action

1990
Surfrider is created: the marine litter issue is its core mission
1995
Surfrider Foundation Europe launches the first edition of the Ocean Initiatives programme
2009
A petition is launched to recognise marine litter as pollution in the European regulation.
2010
The petition of 40,000 signatures is handed over to European Union Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki during the European Maritime Days.
2010
Marine litter is included in the European Strategy Framework Directive for the marine environment 2008/56/EC. Marine litter is henceforth regarded as descriptor of the ecological state of marine waters and State members must adopt measures to take action against marine pollution in 2015.
2011
General principle of prohibition for all discharges from ships for the International Maritime Organisation (Annexe V of MARPOL Convention)
2013
The Ocean Initiatives programme is sponsored by the European Commission and the petition requesting the ban of single-use plastic bags in Europe is handed over to Potocnick, European Commissioner for the Environment (22,583 signatures).
2013
The research project Riverine Input is launched and participatory science is included in the Ocean Initiatives programme.
2014
Integration of the European group of experts on the marine litter issue (Marine litter technical subgroup MSFD)
2015
20th edition of the Ocean Initiatives programme and organisation of the international conference “Plastic in the Mediterranean Sea: beyond observation, what solutions?”

The ocean: the biggest rubbish bin of human activity

What is waste? Aquatic waste is an item 100% of human origin abandoned in the environment.

By following the water cycle waste thrown away on the continent ends up in the oceans and eventually on the coastline. For several years the exponential increase of its presence in the marine environment is directly related to the evolution of our consumption behaviours. The majority of waste found in the marine environment is composed of daily consumption items. Our consumption behaviours also impact the type of waste present in the marine environment: plastic represents more than 70% of litter.

The amount of waste found in the oceans is such that its build-up has created massive continents whose size represents 1/3 of Europe.

The impact of marine litter on our oceans

  • 100,000 marine mammals killed
    every year
  • Suffocating sea beds
  • Plastic microparticles impacting
    the food chain
  • Physical threat for Mankind
  • 5 continents of waste
    formed in the oceans
  • $13 billion damages
    on the tourism economy

Change behaviours to reduce waste at the source

50% of waste
reduction
by 2020

Change behaviours

Reduce industrial waste

Pass laws aiming at reducing waste

Surfrider aims at reducing 50% of waste inflowing the marine environment by 2020. This goal can be reached if all stakeholders, citizens, industrialists and decision-makers are committed to the implementation of concrete solutions.

Meetings with parliamentarians, participation in international conferences, petitions relay, etc., all actions aimed at influencing the regulation. Surfrider also develops educational sessions on the issue of marine litter, accessible to the general public and schools throughout Europe

What we do
Study, Educate, Convince

Study
Understand the origins of waste

All these activities is complemented by an important work of scientific research to better understand the problem of marine litter. By studying the waste water from the source, assessing them to the oceans by rivers, we aim to find effective solutions to reduce them.

Convince
Put pressure on public authorities

Such citizen mobilisation is also a strong message sent out to European political institutions which is what Surfrider is campaigning for through proper lobbying work. We advocate for qualitative and quantitative goals and ambitions to fight against this scourge.

Educate
Increase awareness of European citizens

Since 1995 Surfrider Foundation Europe has been undertaking awareness and education actions for citizens across Europe. The aim is to draw attention to the marine litter issue through beach, lake and river clean-ups. In doing so every participant becomes aware of how one’s daily actions impact the marine environment.