Towards Osaka Blue Ocean Vision - G20 Implementation Framework for Actions on Marine Plastic Litter


Actions and Progress on Marine Plastic Litter
Last Update : 2020/05/01

Policy framework

The Federal Environment Ministry’s Five-point plan aims at ‘less plastic and more recycling. It is accompanied by a PA Campaign: ‘No to the Throwaway Society’
On 26 November 2018 the German Federal Minister for the Environment launched ‘The Federal Environment Ministry’s five-point plan for less plastic and more recycling’.
Assuming that globally we are living in a throwaway society the plan aims at changing course on how we manage packaging and short lived consumer goods and reverse the trend. We will make consumption more sustainable, avoid unnecessary products and packaging and strive for closed-loop recycling. This is a great challenge that requires the efforts of many actors.

Germany is Contracting party to two Regional sea cooperations for the protection of the marine environment of the North East Atlantic and the Baltic Sea. Both Cooperations have established Regional Action Plans on Marine Litter.

GER has established a „National Cosmetics Dialogue“, established in 2013 , aiming at a voluntary phasing out of ‘microbeads’ from cosmetic products;

Together with the Government of Lower Saxony and the Federal Environment Agency, the Federal Ministry for the Environment has established a National Round Table on Marine Litter‘(RT), i.e. a joint Platform for Federal and Federal Laender Agencies and
Stakeholders. They all work together in working Groups on Working Groups on Land based-/ Sea based Sources (each incl. Public Awareness raising component)

EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD, 2008)
The MSFD establishes a framework within which EU-Member States shall take the necessary measures to achieve or maintain good environmental status in the marine
environment by the year 2020 at the latest. One of qualitative descriptor for determining good environmental status concerns marine Litter. It reads .as follows:
“Properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the
coastal and marine environment.”

IMO Action Plan to address Marine Plastic Litter from Ships
Directive (EU) 2019/883

Supporting partner countries via development cooperation (BMZ)


The ‘Five Point Plan’ focuses on the following areas on the path away from the throwaway society:

Avoiding unnecessary products and packaging – and if need be, outlawing them. This applies, for example, to certain single-use products made of plastics such as carrier bags, cutlery, plates, straws etc., but also to the deliberate use of microplastics in cosmetics.
Making packaging more environmentally friendly, supporting reusable packaging.
Promoting environmentally friendly product design, for example through financial incentives with regard to the disposal costs.
Making material flows circular through smart, high-quality recycling.
Being internationally committed to combating marine litter and using plastic sustainably

With regard to packaging, the above-mentioned measures of the ‘Five Point Plan’ are already mostly implemented by the new German Packaging Act, which entered into force at the beginning of 2019. The Packaging Act is based on the principle of producer responsibility and includes inter alia very high recycling rates for most packaging waste, financial incentives for the avoidance of packaging and the use of recycling-friendly packaging, a deposit scheme for single-use beverage packaging and several awareness rising obligations for packaging distributors.

The first point of the “Five Point Plan” is addressed by the so called European Single-Use Plastic Directive. This directive entered into force on 2 July 2019. It addresses those single-use plastic products that are found the most on beaches of the European Union as well as fishing gear containing plastic and products made from oxo-degradable plastic. The directive mainly contains measures with regard to consumption reduction, restrictions on placing on the market as well as product and marking requirements. Currently, the Federal Ministry for the Environment is working intensively on the transposition of this directive into national measures until 3 July 2021.

Implementing regional measures under the roof of Regional Seas Cooperation contributes to the implementation of the G20 Action Plan.

The Round Table (RT) aims at developing concepts / solutions / ways in order to
operationalize agreed measures including those of the G20 Action Plan. All relevant stakeholders i.a. industry, public ‚Green‘ NGOs Science, Agencies, Policy representatives are members of the RT. It provides a platform for safeguarding information exchange amongst all partners and actors and offers external and internal networking;
Concerning Marine Littter the GER ‘Programme of Measures’ for implementing the European Marine Strategy Directive the following measures are under way:

  1. Marine litter becoming an item in learning goals, teaching plans and materials
  2. Modification/substitution of products in a comprehensive life cycle approach
  3. Avoiding the use of primary microplastic particles
  4. Reducing inputs of plastic litter e.g. plastic packaging, into the marine environment
  5. Measures relating to lost and abandoned fishing nets and gear
  6. Establishing the “fishing-for-litter” approach
  7. Removing existing marine litter
  8. Reducing amounts of plastic litter through local regulatory provisions
  9. Reducing emissions and inputs of microplastic particles

Collaboration with stakeholders

As a G7 follow-up activity, the Ocean Plastics Lab has been initiated by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research together with the German Marine Research Consortium, supported by the European Commission and international partners from politics and science in 2017. 7 Tour stops have been realized so far (Turin, Paris, Brussels, Washington D.C., Ottawa, Berlin, Lisbon) and about 70.000 visitors have seen the exhibition. The exhibition often takes place in connection with political events (e.g. Meeting of G7 Ministers of Science 2017 in Turin, 2nd Arctic Science Ministerial 2018 in Berlin or European Maritime Days 2019 in Lisbon), so that also side events on the subject of marine litter are organized. Related press releases and further information can be found at the websites:
Accumulation of actual conditions and accumulation of scientific knowledge
(1) Promotion of international harmonization of sampling and analytical methodologies;
(2) Research on effects of marine plastic litter including microplastics on human health and on the ecosystem under the umbrella of JPI Oceans. JPI Oceans Call 2018 “Sources, distribution & impact of microplastics in the marine environment” A total amount of up to € 10.5 million was allocated by the Funding Partners. Funding partners are Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Italy, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. In addition, researchers based in other countries are able to participate on own expenses. The call comprises four themes: (1) Identification, characterisation and quantification of the major microplastic sources, especially mechanisms and time scales of macroplastic fragmentation, (2) New sampling and analytical methodologies – focusing on the smaller (nano-)particles and in situ measurement methods for all matrices (water, sediment, biota), (3) Monitoring and mapping of microplastics in the marine environment including its effects on the marine environment, and (4) Concepts to reduce inputs of plastics into the marine environment including through new recycling methods, raising public awareness, promoting behavioural change, socio-economic analyses

Participation in MEPC Correspondence Group on Development of a Strategy to address Marine Litter from Ships
Implementation of Directive (EU) 2019/883 on port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships is presently in progress

  1. PREVENT Waste Alliance launched on May 9th, 2019, demonstration projects on better plastic waste management in Indonesia and Ghana as well as on plastic waste prevention will be implemented.
  2. Strategic Alliance on marine litter prevention with a multi-national company in Egypt, Morocco, Mexico and the Philippines.
  3. Regional project “Developing capacities for preventing marine litter” started in South-East Europe in 2018.
  4. German development cooperation advises on the introduction of extended producer mechanisms on packaging waste in Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt.
  5. The German KfW Development Bank (financial cooperation) has launched the Clean Oceans Initiative together with EIB and AFD.
  6. Global advisory project “Concepts for sustainable waste management and circular economy” with a component on marine litter, including the following:
  7. Cooperation with the European Union with partners in Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and China that is co-funded by BMZ: policy reforms and pilot projects around plastic waste prevention and management will be implemented.
  8. Cooperation with the “Action Platform for Source-to-Sea Management (S2S Platform)”. Source-to-sea approaches for marine litter prevention have been elaborated and will be piloted.
  9. Germany has also co-funded marine litter prevention activities of the World Bank, among others for the PROBLUE trust fund and for technical cooperation with Myanmar, Cambodia and Kenya.

Between 2015 and 2019, BMZ/Germany, has committed a total funding of appr. 11 Mio. Euros for projects dedicated specifically to technical cooperation on marine litter prevention. And it funds waste management projects under technical and financial cooperation sometimes indirectly contributing to marine litter prevention. In addition to this, new projects for South-East Asia and the Caribbean are in preparation.


The National Cosmetics Dialogue has contributed to triggering activities at the European level. The European association, Cosmetics Europe, has informed about a reduction of ca. 97% in using microplastic particles in rinse off cosmetics by the end of 2017. 

  • Within the PREVENT Waste Alliance: Studies on 1) the prevention of plastic packaging waste and single use plastic and 2) guidelines for the application of secondary plastics and 3) toolbox on extended producer responsibility systems for packaging waste with special focus on Ghana and Indonesia. 
  • Within Strategic Alliance: Guidelines on coprocessing waste in cement plants, measures to improve collection and sorting of waste at local level in Egypt, Morocco, Mexico and the Philippines.
  • Within global advisory project “Concepts for sustainable waste management and circular economy”: 1) Within the regional workshop “Managing Packaging Waste – Preventing Marine Litter” in Bali, Indonesia (together with ASEAN), recommendations on packaging waste management have been submitted to the ASEAN working group “Coastal and Marine Environment”. In 2019 the ASEAN Bangkok Declaration was adopted.


Within cooperation with Source-to-Sea Platform: publication of the Source-to-Sea Framework for Marine Litter Prevention: Preventing Plastic Leakage in River Basins and the related policy brief. Pilot projects will be implemented in Vietnam and Ethiopia.

Note: Relevant indicators, data or other numerical information can be included at the discretion of each country, for example: (1) the amount of waste generated, reused, collected, recycled, and properly disposed of; (2) the amount of marine litter cleaned up; (3) the scale of use of innovative technologies and materials including R&D investment; (4) the scale and/or effect of assistance for countries that need technical capacity development including the increased amount of waste properly disposed of. (encouraged to indicate the proportion/elements of plastics and/or microplastics, if available)

Best practices

  • Recommendations for plastic packaging waste (ASEAN)
  • Studies on 1) the prevention of plastic packaging waste and single use plastic and 2) guidelines for the application of secondary plastics and 3) toolbox on extended producer responsibility systems for packaging waste with special focus on Ghana and Indonesia (under development).
  • Study “Marine Litter Prevention” including the use of a tool for estimating plastic waste leakage in Indonesia and Algeria.

Contact details

Ms. Heike Imhoff
Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (Division: Protection of the Marine Environment)

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