Technological watch

The Marine Plastic Litter Issue: A Social-Economic Analysis

The issue of marine plastic litter pollution is multifaceted, cross-sectoral, and ongoing in the absence of appropriate management measures. This study analysed the issue of marine plastic litter pollution in the context of the Descriptor 10 of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and Good Environmental Status of the oceans and seas. The Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) framework was used to assess the causes, effects, and management measures to changes in the marine environment resulting from marine plastics pollution. We noted that less than 10 peer-reviewed publications have applied the Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) model to the issue of marine plastics pollution. Some basic needs such as food security, movement of goods and services, and shelter are also some of the major drivers of marine plastic pollution. The use of plastics is linked to multiple economic sectors (fisheries, agriculture, transport, packaging, construction) and other human activities. A significant amount of the resulting pressures came from the economic sectors for packaging and construction. State changes occurred at the environmental (contamination and bioaccumulation), ecosystem (ingestion of plastics, ghost fishing) and ecosystem service levels (supply of sea food, salt and cultural benefits), with possible loss of jobs and income being some of the observed impacts on human welfare. Responses as management measures, which are tailored to meet each component of the DPSIR framework, were identified. These included policies, regulations, technological advancement and behavioural change. The research acknowledges the issue of marine plastics pollution as a global environmental problem and recommends a trans-disciplinary approach, involving all types of stakeholders. Future research and analysis applying the DPSIR framework will be useful to provide the information necessary for the effective, adaptive management of litter pollution by marine plastics.

Publication date: 19/10/2020

Author: Samuel Abalansa

Reference: doi: 10.3390/su12208677

MDPI (sustainability)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.