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Marine litter, in particular plastic debris, poses a serious
threat to marine life, human health and the economy. In order to reduce
its impact, marine litter collections such as beach clean-ups are
frequently conducted. This paper presents a systematic review of temporal
developments, geographical distribution, quantities and waste treatment
pathways of collected marine litter. Results from over 130 studies and
projects highlight the worldwide increase in collection efforts. Many of
these are in wealthy countries that do not primarily contribute to the
problem. Over 250 thousand tonnes, have already been removed, but there
is little or no information available regarding how this waste is treated
or used post collection. This paper highlights the need for a wholesystem
quantitative assessment for the collection and waste treatment of
marine litter, and identifies the challenges associated with utilising
this waste in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-174
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Early online date6 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Collection
  • Life-cycle
  • Marine litter
  • Systems perspective
  • Waste treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution


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