Marine litter is found on coasts, on the water surface, in the water column, on the seabed and even in the deep seas where it causes harm to the entire marine ecosystem. Litter consists of many large items such as discarded plastic bags, cigarette butts and other items that through time degrade and become small, micro- and nano- particles of plastic. Plastic items are the most abundant, persistent and damaging component of marine litter that accumulates in the environment due to plastic longevity.  Data on marine litter shows that 50% of European Union marine litter consists of single-use plastic items. 
The Directive on single-use plastics addresses this issue to prevent and reduce the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, in particular the marine environment, and on human health.  Where sustainable alternatives are easily available and affordable, single-use plastic products can no longer be placed on the markets of European Member States. From 3 July 2021, single-use plastic plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds cannot be placed on the markets of the European Member States. The same measure applies to cups, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene, and all products made of oxo-degradable plastic. 
Wish to know more?
- Dive into the Map of the Week to learn more about seafloor plastic litter;
- Read further information about European Union policy on plastics;
- Learn about the 2021 edition of the #EUBeachCleanup campaign on the theme of marine biodiversity.
The data in this map are provided by EMODnet.