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Plug the marine litter tap

A pilot study on potential marine litter sources in urban areas

image of Plug the marine litter tap

Marine litter is a growing environmental problem where especially plastic material is accumulated in the seas where it will fragment to smaller pieces. The purpose of the presented pilot study is to raise awareness amongst officials at municipalities and authorities about the need to reduce the presence of litter in the marine environment and to give ideas/suggestions on how this can be done. The project has therefore developed a “Plug the Marine Litter Tap”-approach, which together with local knowledge and experience, can be used to identify sources of marine debris by using existing statistics. Södertälje is used as a pilot area where we give examples on indicators for marine litter in the urban environment and proposed measures for each indicator. We hope that this will encourage municipalities to reflect on how preventive measures against marine litter can be incorporated in local waste management plans and become part of their regular routine.

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General discussion and remarks

Everyone wants litter-free seas but to achieve this vision we must have an understanding of the complexity of the problem. One factor is that once marine litter has entered the sea, there are very limited opportunities to clean it up. It is estimated that only 15% of the litter is washed up on the coast (UNEP, 2005) and only a few of the beaches can actually be cleaned, at a high cost to society. There are currently no techniques for cleaning large areas of the sea bottom or the water column. The seas are at risk of becoming a repository of human waste.

English

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