The cost of marine litter damage to the global marine economy: Insights from the Asia-Pacific into prevention and the cost of inaction

Publication Name

Marine Pollution Bulletin


Marine litter is recognised as imposing a range of costs on marine economies and environments as we target UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to 2030. Prevention of these avoidable damage costs can restore economic benefits and ocean health. In the Asia-Pacific we estimate the annual damage cost from marine litter to the marine economy has risen eightfold since 2008 and in 2015 was US$10.8 billion (bn), translating to $18.3bn globally ($21.3bn in 2020). In 2020 the present value of global economic damage costs to 2030 and 2050 are $−197bn and $−434bn respectively and as high as $−229bn and $−731bn, if predicted increased plastic production eventuates. As avoidable costs, these projections are the unacceptable “cost of global inaction” in today's terms. Litter prevention by government, industries and the community is needed now, to reduce these predicted marine economic cost impacts to 2050 with environmental benefits.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access



Article Number


Funding Number

OFWG 01 2018A

Funding Sponsor

U.S. Department of State



Link to publisher version (DOI)