This paper provides a comprehensive up-to-date review of the literature on the economic instruments that can reduce marine litter. We assess their cost of implementation, level of effectiveness as well as indirect environmental and socio-economic effects (externalities) that may arise as a result of their implementation. The evidence points to an overall beneficial impact of environmental taxes on items such as plastic bags in terms of reduced use, as well as a corresponding low cost of implementation. In the same vein, deposit-refund schemes can achieve high return rates for bottles although at a relatively high cost (especially when the scheme targets a wide range of packaging types). In the case of municipal waste collection, a ‘pay-as-you-throw’ charge can be applied to incentivise waste reduction. In coastal areas, waste collection and treatment can be further supported by the collection of tourist taxes, although there is a high risk that these funds might be used for other purposes. In the fishing industry, rewards for fishing vessels that return waste to shore has been shown to both reduce marine litter as well as complement fishermen's income. Since the vast majority of marine litter comes from land-based sources and consists of plastic, economic instruments that target relevant sources of land-based litter more broadly stand to make the greatest contribution to marine litter reduction. The choice of an appropriate intervention is case specific, largely depending on the tackled source of pollution, the country's institutional characteristics and infrastructure, consumer preferences and habitual behaviour, and the economy's overall sectoral composition.
- economic instruments
- marine litter