ocean bound plastic?

What is it? And why it is very important!


Ocean Bound Plastic is a plastic waste that is not collected correctly and is abandoned in the environment where it will be transported to the ocean either by rain, wind, tides, river flow, floods. 


Ocean Bound Plastic is indirectly defined by the publication of Jenna Jembeck et al. in Science on 13th February 2015, based on that literature, and consultation with peer groups we have summarized that:

Ocean Bound Plastic is Abandoned Plastic Waste of all size  (micro-plastics, mezzo-plastics and macro-plastics) located within the range of 50km from shore in communities or areas where waste management is inexistent or very inefficient. Plastic Waste in landfills or managed dumps is not considered OBP but Plastic Waste in uncontrolled, informal dumps is considered OBP if within the 50 km distance from shore.

We also have defined 2 stricter geographic and 1 activity based subcategories of Ocean Bound Plastic in order to focus more precisely on the leaking points of Ocean Bound Plastic in the seas and include an activity that is by nature at risk of generating plastic contamination of the ocean.

A) WATERWAYS OCEAN BOUND PLASTIC: Abandoned Plastic Waste located within a river stream or within a distance of 200m from both sides of the river stream.

Our Waterways category goes beyond the 50 km from shore distance, simply because rivers either in the form of macro-plastic (when they float) or micro-plastics (from the micro-plastic degradation or micro-plastic sources) potentially carry plastics to Oceans from way more than 50 km.

B) SHORELINE OCEAN BOUND PLASTIC: Abandoned Plastic Waste located within 200m from the highest tide line towards land and 100m from the lowest tide line towards the sea.

C) FISHING MATERIAL OCEAN BOUND PLASTIC: this category covers all the plastic waste generated by fishermen (fishing gears mostly) and the plastic bycatch (usually thrown back at sea) when taken by projects offering an incentive to fishermen to bring back this plastic at shore. 

Note: this category addition in OBP is motivated by the potential impact that fishermen can have (both positive and negative) on marine litter, fishing gear being a significant proportion of floating plastic waste at sea.


The vast majority of plastics contaminating oceans originate from land and were therefore previously Ocean Bound Plastics, indeed, it is commonly admitted that 80% of plastic in the seas, come from land.

Needless to say that collecting these plastics before they reach oceans is easier and cheaper than once they have drowned in the bottom of oceans or are dispersed as a soup of micro particles for the ones that float (assumed to be 1% of what enters oceans).

That is why we believe we should focus our work on land to close the tap of plastic leakage. But at the same time complementing actions on land by working with fishermen to avoid voluntary littering and benefit from the plastic collected accidentally as bycatch also makes sense from the impact and cost point of view, creating a coherent global action against Ocean Bound Plastic and preventing Ocean Plastic.