Global analysis of marine plastics and implications of control measure strategies

Ren Shou Yu, Ying Fei Yang*, Sher Singh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Plastic pollution is a global environmental crisis that threatens marine ecosystems and human health. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of the current state of plastic pollution in oceans worldwide. We examined data on global plastic production, annual estimates of plastic emissions to oceans from different countries, surface plastic mass by ocean basin, the share of global plastic waste emitted to the ocean, the share of ocean plastics that come from the largest emitting rivers, microplastics in the surface ocean, and plastic mass and particles across the world surface ocean. Our analysis revealed alarming trends, such as the significant increase in plastic production since the 1950s and the projected estimate of up to 12,000 million metric tons of plastic waste in the natural environment by 2050. Additionally, we found that more than 1000 rivers account for 80% of global annual emissions, with Asia contributing the highest estimate of plastic emissions, followed by Africa, South America, North America, Europe, and Oceania. Furthermore, our findings showed that the largest contributors to ocean plastic waste are macroplastics, mesoplastics, and microplastics, with small microplastics dominating the percentage of surface ocean plastic by particle count. The recycling and reuse of waste plastics implement the concept of sustainable development of recycling and offsets the carbon emissions in the environment, potentially obtaining more carbon credits. Our findings highlight the urgent need for coordinated global efforts to reduce plastic waste and prevent further harm to our oceans, incorporating recycling and reuse strategies as key components of comprehensive control measures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1305091
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • carbon credit
  • control measures
  • marine ecosystems
  • plastic pollution
  • recycling
  • sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering


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