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Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution Report by UNEP


Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution Report by UNEP: Relevance

  • GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution Report by UNEP: Context

  • UNEP has recently released a report titled From Pollution to Solution: a global assessment of marine litter and plastic pollution, which shows that plastic pollution leakage into aquatic ecosystems has grown sharply in recent years and is projected to more than double by 2030.


NITI AAYOG Handbook on Sustainable Plastic Management


UNEP report on marine litter: Key points

  • The report indicates that there is a growing threat in all ecosystems from source to sea.
  • It also shows that while we have the know-how, we need the political will and urgent action by government to tackle the mounting crisis.
  • The report has warned against damaging alternatives to single-use and other plastic products, such as bio-based or biodegradable plastics, which currently pose a chemical threat similar to conventional plastics.
  • The report highlights that plastic accounts for 85 per cent of marine litter.
  • It also warns that by 2040, volumes of marine litter pollution flowing into marine areas will nearly triple, adding 23-37 million metric tons of plastic waste into the ocean per year.
  • This means about 50kg of plastic per meter of coastline worldwide.


Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution Report by UNEP_3.1


Impacts of marine plastic pollution

On marine life

  • All marine life – from plankton and shellfish to birds, turtles and mammals – faces the grave risk of toxification, behavioral disorder, starvation and suffocation.
  • Similarly, corals, mangroves and seagrass beds are also smothered by plastic waste preventing them from receiving oxygen and light.


India Plastic Pact


On humans

  • The human body is similarly vulnerable on multiple fronts to plastic pollution in water sources, which could cause hormonal changes, developmental disorders, reproductive abnormalities and cancer.
  • Plastics are ingested through seafood, drinks and even common salt; they penetrate the skin and are inhaled when suspended in the air.


On economy

  • Marine litter and plastic pollution also significantly affect the global economy.
  • The economic costs of marine plastic pollution with respect to its impacts on tourism, fisheries and aquaculture, together with other costs such as those of clean-ups, were estimated to be at least USD 6-19 billion globally in 2018.
  • It is projected that by 2040 there could be a USD 100 billion annual financial risk for businesses if governments require them to cover waste management costs at expected volumes and recyclability.
  • High levels of plastic waste can also lead to a rise in illegal domestic and international waste disposal.


Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021


Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution Report by UNEP: Suggestions

  • The assessment calls for the immediate reduction of plastics and encourages a transformation across the whole plastic value chain.
  • Further investments need to be made in far more robust and effective monitoring systems to identify the sources, scale and fate of plastic and the development of a risk framework, which is currently missing on a global level.
  • Ultimately, a shift to circular approaches is necessary, including sustainable consumption and production practices, accelerated development and adoption of alternatives by businesses and increased consumer awareness to enable more responsible choices.

Microplastic Pollution

Sources of plastic pollution

  • Plain Old Trash. Plastic is everywhere, even on those items you may not expect it to be.
  • It is Overused.
  • Fishing Nets.
  • Disposing of Plastic and Garbage.
  • It’s many a time Nature Caused.
  • Negative Effects on Human Health.
  • It Upsets the Food Chain.
  • Groundwater Pollution.

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