From river to oceans: contribution of plastic waste


#plastic #Basel Convention #chemicals &waste

Plastics in the marine environment have become a major concern because of their persistence at sea, and adverse consequences to marine life and potentially human health. Implementing mitigation strategies requires an understanding and quantification of marine plastic sources, taking spatial and temporal variability into account.

In a recent publication on Nature Communication, the co-authors estimated plastic inputs from rivers into oceans based on waste management, population density and hydrological information: between 1.15 and 2.41 million tonnes/year. Asia rivers are the major contributor: estimated plastic releases from Asian rivers represented 86% of the total global input, and most of the top 20 polluting rivers are located in Asia, with the most polluted one being the famous Yangtze River in China, followed by the Ganges in India & Bangladesh.

The findings of this study provide baseline data for ocean plastic mass balance exercises, and assist in prioritizing future plastic debris monitoring and mitigation strategies. Readers are encourage to have a look at a Science 2015 publication on Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean as well.

This study could contribute to the marine plastic litter and microplastics under Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.

(Laurent C.M. Lebreton (2017) River plastic emissions to the world's oceans. Nature

Communication: 8:15611)