With an estimated 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons of mismanaged plastic waste entering the ocean annually1, plastic pollution is a global problem that has gained increasing attention in recent years. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly agreed on a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include a target (SDG 14.1) that member states should “by 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution.” As such, governments at all levels are responding to plastic pollution problems with diverse approaches that incorporate public policy instruments targeting multiple stages of the plastics life-cycle. At the fourth meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly in 2019 (PDF), member states called for more rigorous monitoring of the status of the global plastic pollution problem and efforts to address it, including existing activities and actions by governments. This Inventory was created to support such monitoring.
About the Inventory
The Plastics Pollution Policy Inventory is an updateable and searchable database consisting of public policy documents targeting plastic pollution in several languages, beginning January 1, 2000, and currently updated to August 2021. This database was built using a robust methodological process developed with the support of research librarians and experts on public policy databases. The inventory currently includes over 550 downloadable policies, in over 30 languages, with the intent to address plastic pollution by subnational, national, and international level governments, and is growing based on stakeholder input and continued research. The inventory is currently comprehensive at the international level, includes a representative but not exhaustive list of policies at the national level, and an illustrative list of policies at the subnational level.
Each policy document can be downloaded and includes metadata on the source, language, year enacted, location and jurisdictional level. The inventory only contains plastic pollution-related policies which demonstrate clear intent on the part of policy makers to address plastic pollution. In addition, users can download other generally applicable policies found in searches for plastic pollution policies, illustrating other policies that may have impacts on the plastic waste stream but may not have been designed with the explicit intention of reducing plastic pollution.
Uses of the Inventory
We invite governments, industry, researchers, non-profits and other stakeholders to explore our inventory and use our database to help answer the following types of questions: Where are there policy gaps in terms of geography or response type? How are these policies designed and what components of existing policies could have an impact? How can we use existing policies to develop and improve upon new policies, perhaps in locations with limited capacity to enact legislation?
Inventory Citation Guidelines
When referring to policy documents or metadata downloaded from the website, and/or its concept or design, please cite its architects.
Example: Karasik R., Virdin J., Pickle, A., J. Wilson. (Editors), 2021. Plastics Policy Inventory (https://nicholasinstitute.duke.edu/plastics-policy-inventory).
To help us track the use of Plastics Policy Inventory in your research, we ask that you cite Karasik, et al., (2021) as the source of the information in an appropriate part of your text.
Can't find what you are looking for? Find additional plastic policies documents and databases.
If you know of a policy document that is not in our database and are willing to share, or have any questions or suggestions, please email Rachel Karasik.
We would like to thank the following organizations for their support of the development, maintenance, and expansion of our plastics policy inventory work.
1. Jambeck et al. 2015