Uncertainties in Global Estimates of Plastic Waste Highlight the Need for Monitoring Frameworks

Year of Publication

2021

The study compared mismanaged plastic estimates from three global studies (Jambeck et al. (2015), Lebreton and Andrady (2019), and Borrelle et al. (2020)), finding significant differences. It calls for improvements in municipal, national, and international monitoring of plastic management.

Source:

Marine Pollution Bulletin

Author(s):

Micaela Edelson, Daniel Håbesland, RebeccaTraldi

Geography:

Global

Type:

Measurement (System/Market/Tool)

Purpose of Measurement:

Understanding the Problem, Monitoring and Evaluation

Impact theme(s):

Material Flows, Oceans

Several studies have estimated global inputs of plastic into the environment, relying on national statistics and modeling approaches. However, these estimates exhibit uncertainty driven by limited primary municipal solid waste management data. The study compared mismanaged plastic estimates from three global studies (Jambeck et al. (2015), Lebreton and Andrady (2019), and Borrelle et al. (2020)), finding significant differences. The limitations of global plastic pollution estimates are well-known in the scientific community, and some variation is expected. However, these discrepancies limit policy design and mitigation. Thus, municipal, national, and international monitoring of plastic management and pollution must be improved.