The European Commission has published a report that supports a quantitative headline reduction target for marine litter in Europe, as called for in the 7th Environment Action Programme. The study proposes “a 30% reduction of the number of items of the top 10 litter categories found on the beach by 2020, compared to 2015” and this figure has been included in the EC’s Communication “Towards a Circular Economy”. The full report can downloaded at:
The figure of 30% which was largely based on assessing the impact that different waste management scenarios could have in terms of generation of marine litter but excluded unidentifiable items or fragmented pieces (which variation may not reflect the success of specific measures, due to continuous fragmentation of larger pieces). The scenarios used are in line with the ones considered in the EC’s Impact Assessment study, carried within the current review of the European waste management targets and range from “business as usual”, to combined options with higher recycling rates, including ones for packaging. In fact, according to the models used, the “maximum feasible scenario”, in which all Member States perform as good as the top three countries did in 2012, could lead to reductions of marine litter input of 35% but if one considers additional behavioural and more item-targeted oriented measures (e.g. deposit-refund for plastic beverage bottles, campaigns to reduce cigarette butts on the beach), this figure can actually be rather moderate.
The multi-fold study was commissioned to Arcadis and EUCC and included also an analysis of the type of the targets put forward by Member States for marine litter within the MSFD, a review of the most up-to-date published information on the environmental and health impacts of marine litter, case-studies on campaigns and initiatives that led to behavioural change in respect to marine litter and finally an analysis of results from the Public Consultation on marine litter carried during 2013 (specific report on this analysis that can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/consultations/marine_litter_en.htm).