10 million tonnes of litter end up in the world’s seas and oceans every year.

Research conducted by Algalita, an independent marine research institute based in California, found in 2004 that marine water samples contained six times more plastic than plankton.

Where marine litter comes from

According to some estimates, about 80 % of the debris found in the marine environment comes from land-based activities. The source of marine litter is not necessarily limited to human activities along the coastline. Even when disposed of on land, rivers, floods and wind transport litter to the sea. Fishing activities, shipping, off-shore installations such as oil rigs and the sewage system contribute the rest.

There are some regional variations in the origin of marine litter. In the Mediterranean, Baltic and Black Seas, land-based activities generate most of the marine litter; in the North Sea, however, maritime activities are an equally significant contributor.

*Source: European Environment Agency.