Article in peer-reviewed journal
September 2020, Science

Stephanie B. Borrelle , Jeremy Ringma, Kara Lavender Law, Cole C. Monnahan, Laurent Lebreton, Alexis McGivern, Erin Murphy, Jenna Jambeck, George H. Leonard, Michelle A. Hilleary, Marcus Eriksen, Hugh P. Possingham, Hannah De Frond, Leah R. Gerber, Beth Polidoro, Akbar Tahir, Miranda Bernard, Nicholas Mallos, Megan Barnes and Chelsea M. Rochman

  • Publication type: Article in peer-reviewed journal
  • Publication journal: Science
  • DOI: 10.1126/science.aba3656
  • Publication date: 17.09.2020
  • Collaborators: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto (CA), College of Engineering, University of Georgia (USA), David H. Smith Conservation Research Program, Society for Conservation Biology, Washington, DC (USA), School of Biological Sciences, The University of Western Australia (AUS), Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, University of Queensland (AUS), Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (USA), Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA (USA), Status of Stocks and Multispecies Assessments Program, Resource Ecology and Fisheries Management, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, WA (USA), The Ocean Cleanup Foundation (NL), The Modelling House (NZ), School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford (UK), Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, Arizona State University, AZ (USA), School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, AZ, (USA), Ocean Conservancy, Washington, DC (USA), Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, VA (USA), 5 Gyres Institute, CA (USA), School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland (AUS), The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA (USA), School Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Arizona State University, AZ (USA), Department of Marine Science, Faculty of Marine and Fisheries Sciences, Universitas Hasanuddin (ID), Research Center for Natural Heritage, Biodiversity and Climate Change, Universitas Hasanuddin (ID), Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy, The University of Western Australia (AUS).


Plastic pollution is a planetary threat, affecting nearly every marine and freshwater ecosystem globally. In response, multilevel mitigation strategies are being adopted but with a lack of quantitative assessment of how such strategies reduce plastic emissions. We assessed the impact of three broad management strategies, plastic waste reduction, waste management, and environmental recovery, at different levels of effort to estimate plastic emissions to 2030 for 173 countries. We estimate that 19 to 23 million metric tons, or 11%, of plastic waste generated globally in 2016 entered aquatic ecosystems. Considering the ambitious commitments currently set by governments, annual emissions may reach up to 53 million metric tons per year by 2030. To reduce emissions to a level well below this prediction, extraordinary efforts to transform the global plastics economy are needed.

  • Plastic pollution, plastic pollution projection, Source mititgation