Marine litter issues, impacts and actions

A study that will contribute to developing a marine litter strategy for Scotland’s seas in light of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.

10 Innovative and Cost Effective Strategies

At the international, national and local level there is a raft of activities to combat marine litter and in many cases litter in general. These may offer examples of best practice and effective strategies for marine litter management.

Innovation can be defined as improving an existing service, product or policy or the successful development and exploitation of new ideas as alternatives; a novel approach. Through development comes increased challenges and opportunities and it is widely recognised innovation is essential to achieve specific goals and wider objectives such as environmental protection, growth, social inclusion and sustainability (e.g. Damanpour and Gopalakrishnan, 1998).There are different types of innovation and in order to effectively tackle the issue of marine litter, each of these need consideration and assimilation.

10.1 Institutional Innovation

Institutional innovation is centred on the creation of neworganisations, or new approaches to the way existing organisations operate, allowing for a change in organisational priorities, and cultural or social changes within that organisation (Damanpour and Gopalakrishnan, 1998). This coordinated approach can lead to improved learning, often standardised approaches and data sharing, and fosters relationship building to effectively meet mutual objectives.

Examples of this can be seen from the summary table in the NOAA Marine Debris Programme which aims to centralize their capability with regard to marine litter reduction both within the agency, its partners, and the public and provide a platform for global partnerships and cooperation for marine litter management. The UNEP Global Initiative on Marine litter aims to help resolve the issue through building knowledge through the Regional Seas programmes and joint initiatives as well as the development of a common approach to monitoring marine litter to address the lack of data and information as an obstacle to improved management.

10.2 Product Innovation

Product innovationis the process through which new or improved products or processes are developed and brought into widespread use. Often these products or processes are grouped together to serve a particular function within society (social innovation). The process of product innovation usually consists of research, development and demonstration through to the operational use of that process or product ( OECD, 2005).

The plastics industry is a good example of product innovation, with plastic now being an essential part of modern society. Their continued innovation has enabled plastic to be used in place of other material offering cost savings and material improvement. Given our reliance on plastics and their extent in the coastal and marine environment industry innovation can also be tailored to product development and biodegradable alternatives. In March 2011, 47 plastics industry organisations from around the world signed up to a Joint Declaration for Solutions on Marine Litter ( .

10.3 Social Innovation

Social innovation refers to new ideas, organisations or strategies that work to address pressing social needs, more effectively than alternatives and create new social relationships or collaborations, with the overall aim of improving either the quality or the quantity of life (Pol and Ville, 2009). Many of the initiatives focussed on enhancing environmental quality such as the KSB National Spring Clean or Love Where You Live campaign, are examples of social innovation, where society is acting to solve a common problem.

New methods of social innovation are relevant in every sector but they are likely to offer most in situations which are intensifying, in fields where existing models and approaches are failing or stagnant, and in situations where new possibilities(such as emerging technologies) are not being adequately exploited to develop innovative solutions to common needs. Social innovation may be overlooked in some situations as unlike technological innovation, there is no obvious gain for any one organisation, however opportunities do exist to ensure its full potential for example through the use of incentives.

10.4 Regional Innovation

Regional innovation encourages the exchange of knowledge, skills, ideas and best practice within a given geographic area ( OECD, 2005). Regional innovation systems act as an interface for interaction with other regional, national and international actors to further encourage information sharing. Furthermore relationships are fostered through the geographical proximity, yet innovation encouraged through the diversity of participants, rather than clustering innovation around institutional or industry based groups in the case of technological innovation (Todtling and Trippl, 2005). The regions may be drawn conceptually or organizationally around institutional regimes such as Marine Planning Partnerships or other recognised groups.

The case for regional innovation is especially pertinent for Scotland where such diversity exists from the large urban areas of the Central Belt to the remote and sparsely populated Highlands and Islands. Offering the opportunity to deal with the issues specific to a particular region and its' individual characteristics i.e. degrees of rurality, helps to ensure any management approaches take account of this and thus are more likely to succeed.

10.5 Market Based Instruments

Market based instruments offer a complimentary approach to address the marine litter issue alongside the more traditional, recognised methods of education and legislation, as part of an integrated, comprehensive programme. Market based instruments are economic tools including taxes, charges, fines, penalties, liability and compensation schemes, subsidies and incentives and tradable permit schemes. These tools fully incorporate the polluter pays principle, the user/beneficiary pays principle and the principle of full cost recovery and work to raise revenue (which can be used to further support the work) through fines and charges, act as an incentive to change behaviour, or ensuring market pricing is a reflection of the true cost of the environmental impact.

The use of market based instruments in environmental management is becoming common place, using market forces to help offer a resolution. Globally there is now a great deal of experience to be gleaned to ensure their effective use and lessen the risk inherent in policy innovation. There are a plethora of market based tools which can be used in this context, and the decision of which to use will be based on a number of considerations including the type and source of litter, its impacts, ensuring an adequate regulatory framework is in place to support their use and the cost effectiveness and likely gains (Figure 10-1).

Figure 10‑1 Marine litter types and example of market based instruments

Figure 10 1 Marine litter types and example of market based instruments (adapted from Ten Brink et al., 2009)

10.6 Barriers to Innovation

Several factors including skills shortages, and lack of understanding may impact upon the development and uptake of new or modified products and processes, and ultimately on innovation. There is a requirement to prioritise which of these to develop further based on their likelihood of success and the risks involved. Often the social and environmental benefits can be overlooked in favour of economic benefits, or because the costs of action is currently more than the economic cost of the current situation but as already shown, the true cost of marine litter is intrinsically difficult to value in economic terms.

10.7 Innovation and Policy

From the literature two schools of thought appear on innovation and environmental policy. Firstly, debate emerges over the effectiveness of policy and its impact on innovation, in that it is suppressed by policy by diverting valuable resources away from blue sky thinking and high risk (but potentially effective) approaches towards regulatory compliance via commonplace end of pipe solutions. In contrast, it is argued the links between environmental policy and innovation are two dimensional. From one point of view, environmental policy (such as stringent packaging standards) may stimulate innovation in the use of alternative materials designed to meet those standards. On the other hand, the possibilities thrown up by innovation can help policy-makers to set progressively stringent standards.

10.8 Existing Approaches

A number of the initiatives have been summarised in the following summary table (Figure 10-2), targeting the key sources of litter including public, SRD, fishing, shipping, fly tipping, and non-sourced. These activities show differing uses of innovation in their approach to marine litter reduction and prevention, including technological and policy innovation as well as social innovations whereby groups are coming together to better address a specific issue as in the example from Korea of a management system to address land based litter from rivers where authorities are coming together to develop cost sharing agreements for clean up operations.

The Strategy may wish to explore expanding these to Scotland where applicable, or drawing on their key strengths and incorporating these in to existing work.

Initiative Lead/ Coordinating Organisation Scale Scope Remit Key Strengths
Coastal Clean Up Programme South Korea's Ministry for Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs South Korea
  • Clean marine environment
  • Raise public awareness
  • Create jobs
  • Removal
  • Education
  • Government budget of $9 million
  • Coordinated approach using 5 methods to meet main aims
  • Paid staff, often local residents, remove much of the litter (46,151 staff in total)
  • Removed c. 30,000 tons of litter
  • Includes local companies and cleans take place in that area, led by the company to highlight the amount of litter from them
Management System to Address Land Based Litter from Rivers South Korea's Ministry for Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs Republic of Korea
  • Waste management of the Nakdong River
  • Removal
  • Costs shared with inland local authorities and not borne wholly by those in coastal areas (based on estimated waste from population size)
  • Shared costs acts as an incentive to those upstream to better manage their waste
  • Uses the Polluter Pays Principal
Marine Debris 101 NOAA International
  • Web based educational campaign for marine litter prevention and awareness
  • Education
  • Coordinated campaign targeting all sources
  • Dedicated website
  • 140,000 hits/month
  • Provides fact sheets on impacts of litter as well as what you can do as an individual to prevent it, by target audience
  • Information for all interests and ages
  • The site draws together information and campaigns from many organisations in to one easy to use resource
  • Social networking tools to increase marketing
Clean Marina Local-Florida
  • Voluntary designation program for environmental stewardship
  • Education
  • Award
  • Participants receive assistance in implementing Best Management Practices through on-site and distance technical assistance
  • Mentoring by other Clean Marinas
  • Facilities must implement a set of environmental measures designed to protect waterways.
  • Easily to recognize facilities engaging in environmentally friendly practices
CSO Control Policy USA-Environmental Protection Agency USA
  • National framework for control of CSOs
  • Guidance
  • Provides guidance to authorities on how to meet legislative water pollution goals as flexibly and cost-effectively as possible
  • CSO controls are cost-effective and meet local environmental objectives
  • Implementing 9 minimum technology-based controls-measures that can reduce the prevalence and impacts of CSOs but are not expected to require significant engineering studies or major construction
  • Communities with CSOs are expected to develop long-term CSO control plans that will provide full compliance
  • The long term plan incorporates public participation and awareness raising
Bin it-don't block it Thames Water Local-Thames region
  • Campaign to educate people about sewer abuse
  • Education
  • Has a clear message-anything other than human waste and toilet paper cannot be flushed, even those marketed as flushable
  • Use graphic images, celebrities, social media and video sharing sites to put the message across
  • Provides simple tips for what you can do as an individual
Sewer Network Action Programme Water UK UK
  • Education campaign for sewer abuse and work with manufacturers
  • Education
  • Industry guidance
  • The development of a protocol to determine whether an individual sanitary product is flushable
  • Work in partnership with the producers and trade organisations to develop the protocol, encourage appropriate labelling of sanitary products and improve consumer education
Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association HELMEPA Greece
  • Joint initiative of Greek seafarers and shipowners to voluntarily undertake the responsibility to eliminate ship-generated marine pollution
  • Education
  • Training
  • Complementing the education of Greek seafarers with updated information covering a wide spectrum of topics that focus on the prevention of ship-generated marine pollution, safety at sea and security
  • Raising environmental awareness and cultivating a safety culture within the industry so that proper compliance with International Conventions, laws and regulations is ensured
  • Run a training programme tailored for each year based on IMO committees and conventions, and vessel inspections, to raise awareness of the areas currently seen as lacking
  • Education and outreach programme for young people
Marine Awareness Course ProSea Foundation North Sea Countries
  • International Marine Awareness Courses for students of maritime colleges and professionals
  • Education
  • Training
  • Improves the environmental knowledge among maritime students and seafarers
  • Highlights international legislation as well as creating a better understanding for marine biology
  • It is expected that better compliance with the rules will be the result
  • Emphasis on financial sustainability
Marine debris Buyback Programme Korean Central Government Republic of Korea
  • Fishing gear and other marine litter landed by fishers
  • Improve marine environment
  • Aid fish population recovery
  • Removal
  • Education
  • Offers a financial incentive for litter landed
  • Landed litter sent off for correct disposal
  • Increases awareness of litter impacts amongst stakeholder group
  • Small sacks suitable for inshore vessels
  • Ongoing awareness programme
  • Collected 29,472 tons over 4 year period
  • Cost effective way to remove benthic litter
Reel In and Recycle BoatU.S Foundation USA
  • Create a network of recycling facilities for anglers to dispose of used fishing line
  • Removal
  • Education
  • Data Collection
  • Tackles one of the top 10 most dangerous items of marine litter (as ranked according to the International Coastal Clean Up)
  • Small designated bins located at popular fishing spots
  • Bins managed and emptied by hosts
  • Uses Partner organisations to increase marketing potential
  • Consistent branding
  • Web based map of bin locations
  • Collected line is recycled
  • Online data reporting tool for collected line
  • Use social networking sites
Nets to Energy Hawaiian Islands Marine Debris Group Hawaii
  • Use derelict fishing nets to produce electricity
  • Removal
  • Energy Provision
  • 603 tons removed since 1996
  • Used for combustion in the local waste to energy facility
At-sea Detection of Derelict Fishing Gear NOAA North Pacific
  • Detection and removal of derelict fishing gear
  • Removal
  • Combines three distinct disciplines: marine debris, oceanography, and remote sensing technology
  • Developed an at-sea detection strategy
Encounter Reporting Program NOAA North Pacific
  • Pilot project to observe and record derelict fishing gear
  • Removal
  • Research
  • Partnership working
  • Reducing the impact of local fisheries, navigation and safety
Urban partnerships Keep America Beautiful USA
  • To prevent litter and illegal dumping
  • Education
  • Action across cities to reduce fly tipping and litter
  • Coordinated programme across existing groups and geographical areas
Total Focus Week Fly-tipping Action Wales Local-Conwy
  • Education
  • Involves eight local organisations coming together to clean up fly-tipped hot spots and tackle illegal waste dumping
  • Involves police, authorities, housing associations, enforcement officers
  • Raises awareness
  • Uses strict penalties
  • Coincides with Wales Sustainability Week
Floating Containment Booms Global
  • Remove litter in situ
  • Frequently used in waterways to prevent riverine inputs of litter
  • Removal
  • Removes litter within a pathway
  • Easy to contain and dispose of the collected litter
  • Does not rely on volunteers
  • Easy to install
  • Can be used in a variety of ways from spans to eddies and natural collection points
Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities UNEP Global
  • Prevent the degradation of the marine environment from land-based activities
  • Guidance
  • Education
  • The only global initiative directly addressing the connectivity between terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems
  • Source of conceptual and practical guidance to be drawn upon by national and/or regional authorities for devising and implementing action
  • Seen as the task of Governments, in close partnership with all stakeholders
  • Recognises the formulation of national and regional programmes of action is a necessity
  • Links to Regional Seas
Reverse vending Global
  • Provide a platform for recycling
  • Removal
  • Education
  • Prevention
  • Helps tackle one of the most prolific litter items
  • Puts a value on waste
  • Extends producer responsibility
Global Initiative on Marine Litter UNEP Global
  • Global platform for partnerships and co-operation for marine litter management
  • Research
  • Production of guidelines on source reduction activities and polices
  • Building knowledge through joint initiatives
  • Development of a common approach to monitoring marine litter
  • Addressing the lack of data and information
Marine Debris Programme NOAA Global
  • To support international effort on preventing, and reducing marine litter
  • Research
  • Coordination
  • Education
  • Grants
  • Clean
  • Wide range of initiatives from research and conferences to source specific activities
  • Links to a number of other initiatives through its Partners
  • Centralised activity to increase coordination both internally and with partner agencies
Trawl net for floating plastics debris EUPC Anticipated European wide
  • Retrieve floating plastics waste in river and coastal waters
  • Research
  • Education
  • Clean
  • New trawling net made from plastics and designed to retrieve floating plastics waste in river and coastal waters.
  • Fishermen can use the trawl and catch between 2 - 8 tonnes of marine debris.
  • There will be a demonstration in France in May.
  • It is hoped Trawls will be sponsored and brought into use across Europe.
Waste Free Oceans The European Union of Plastics Converters ( EUPC) EU
  • Reduce marine litter in the EU
  • Research
  • Education
  • Clean
  • Mapping current legislation and policy, and its effectiveness;
  • Communications and awareness raising for fishermen, port authorities, local authorities waste management companies, the shipping industry and schools;
  • Communication of best practice in waste management;
  • Training seminars and workshops for fishermen, port and marina workers, consumers and schools;
  • Voluntary industry initiatives such as Operation Clean Sweep;
  • Prevention of marine litter best practices: Law enforcement and removal of marine litter such as 'fishing for litter' exercises.
Plastics 2020 Challenge UK Plastics Industry UK
  • Engage the public in a debate about the use, reuse and disposal of plastics.
  • Education
  • Awareness
  • Ideas
  • Uses an online open forum where anyone can submit their thoughts and ideas and suggest ways to help the plastics industry reduce, res-use, recycleand recover their products

Figure 10 2 Initiatives targeting the key sources of litter


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