The issues resulting from plastic waste in the marine environment have highlighted a general failure to control this pollutant on both land and at sea. The international community is now realising that the increasing growth in the amount of plastic pollution in the ocean is reaching a critical point. This has led to a questioning of the current international governance arrangements for marine litter. The environmental and socio-economic impacts of marine litter are a symptom of policy failures and greater action is required “upstream” by industry on land to reduce these impacts. The Stockholm and Basel Conventions are international binding instruments that offer the best opportunity to reduce the impacts of plastics and plastic waste globally. We examine weaknesses in how hazardous wastes are categorised and the options to close the gaps in the current framework that allow for and keep pace with innovation. Both conventions are found to be inadequate to manage the entire lifecycle of all plastic applications. Options are suggested for strengthening the international legal and policy framework in order to reduce on a global scale 1) the quantity of plastic waste generated, and 2) the hazard of plastics throughout their lifecycle.
Karen Raubenheimer, Alistair McIlgorm, Marine Policy, Available online 1 February 2018, In Press