To tackle plastic pollution and address the full life cycle of plastic from source to sea, there is a need to look at plastic’s transport pathways: the rivers. Research indicates that the world’s rivers are a major contributor to plastic pollution in oceans, highlighting the need for active and targeted interventions in river systems to prevent further environmental damage. By understanding, monitoring and forecasting river plastic flows, policymakers will know where immediate action is required so solutions can quickly become an integral part of the battle against plastic waste.
In line with the new UN resolution ‘End plastic pollution: Towards an international legally binding instrument’, UNEP is helping countries to build their capacity to successfully combat plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. This work includes developing solutions that can help forecast plastic litter load in rivers, track their pathways and thereby guide the necessary improvements in policies and actions on the ground. At the same time, there was a need to facilitate information sharing and dialogue among stakeholders through better access to data and good practices for combating plastic pollution.