Since the 1950s the amount of plastics in the marine environment has increased dramatically. Worldwide there is a growing concern about the risks and possible adverse effects of (micro)plastics.

This paper explores the particular governance and management challenges of marine litter. It reflects on the extensive literature on the sources and effects of marine litter, current knowledge on the effects of policies and other actions that are taken worldwide to mitigate and prevent pollution and the context-specific requirements for initiatives, policies and strategies.

The authors state that although the scientific understanding of the problems and the range of effective solutions has significantly increased, there are still many gaps to fill. In fact, sources, pathways and effects of macro- and microplastics are still not fully known. It is underlined that despite all policies and other initiatives, the problem will only increase if no further actions to prevent waste are taken. The paper highlights that successful solutions to the marine litter problem require coordinated actions amongst a wide range of public and private sectors, across sectors, and from the local to the global levels.

Successful actions, aimed at a diversity of goals, are listed, ranging from changing consumer behaviour, the introduction of new technologies, the design, implementation and enforcement of a multitude of plans, policies and laws, to full scale revision of current practices of production, use and management of waste.

Löhr A, Savelli H, Beunen R, Kalz M, Ragas A, Van Belleghem F (2017) Solutions for global marine litter pollution. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 28:90-99