Report concerning techniques to reduce litter in waste water and storm water

The scope and the objective of this project was to compile a report containing information of the best available technology (BAT) to reduce litter in waste water and storm water, as part of the OSPAR regional action plan against Marine litter, Action 42.

Litter items consist by definition of a number of different materials such as plastic, rubber, paper, metal, glass and textile and a combination of these materials. Among them, plastic is considered to be the most problematic. The transport, fate and harmful effects caused by litter on marine life depend on the size, shape and, in the case of plastic, the composition of the items.

The microplastics found in the North Sea and probably in the whole OSPAR region come predominantly from the region itself and not from the surrounding sea areas. Globally marine litter is considered to be dominated by land-based sources; especially since the adoption of the MARPOL Convention, the London Convention and the Oslo Convention (OSPAR) regulating dumping at sea, though there are regional differences.

A broad range of EU policies and legislation relate to marine litter, addressing both its sources and impacts. This includes EU legislation related to environmental legislation on waste management, urban waste water or pollution from ships, and specifically the Marine Strategy Framework Directive descriptor 10.

Marine litter from land based sources reach the North Sea by discharge of storm water, waste water, littering or atmospheric deposition, either directly to the North Sea or in its catchment area and further transported by rivers and other water ways to the sea. Whereas the sources to marine litter, and to some extent also the quantities of litter released from these sources, are fairly well investigated, information on the relative importance of the different pathways is still limited.