Reducing Marine Plastic Pollution: Policy Insights from Economics
Marine plastic pollution is heavily driven by escaped plastic waste from land. Effectively reducing flows of plastic pollution into the oceans requires incentivizing efficient disposal decisions, discouraging production and consumption of products with low recyclability and reuse potential, and encouraging lower-impact, easily recyclable product and packaging designs. We examine the economic literature on waste management and integrated environmental policy to assess how particular policies target these individual pathways and can efficiently reduce flows of plastics into waterways. These policies include production/retail bans and standards, extended producer responsibility, price-based policies such as advance disposal fees and two-part instruments, and interventions grounded in behavioral economics and psychology. We also consider the applicability of these policies in coastal developing nations that often rely upon the informal sector for waste management services. We conclude by identifying important issues for future research.