Land-based sources account for a massive 80% of marine litter in Europe, and approximately 85% of it is plastic, according to the EEA web report ‘From source to sea — The untold story of marine litter‘. Packaging and small plastic items make up nearly 80% of this plastic waste. The new EEA report is the first Europe-wide study of its kind taking a holistic look at how this litter is created and ends up in our European seas via our rivers.
The report offers ten recommendations to boost knowledge to complement already stepped-up action by the European Union through the EU’s Zero Pollution action plan, the Circular Economy action plan (including the Plastics Strategy), the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and Single-Use Plastic Directive.
The recommendations focus on better use of existing and emerging data sources to better monitor problem areas, which can help develop targeted measures. Old-fashioned clean-ups and physical monitoring by volunteer citizen scientists are also invaluable. Technology also plays an increasingly important role. Remote sensing via satellites, planes, drones and artificial intelligence can help make sense of the ‘big data’ collected. Waste leakage and river litter estimation models are just as important as fine-grained data collection and monitoring activities. The use of these tools are needed to drive political decision-making in countries and communities facing the biggest waste mismanagement problems.
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