How successful are waste abatement campaigns and government policies at reducing plastic waste into the marine environment?

Plastic production is increasing globally and in turn there is a rise of plastic waste lost into the coastal and marine environment. To combat this issue, there is an increase in policies that target specific types of plastic waste (such as microbeads and plastic shopping bags). Given that such anthropogenic waste have environmental impacts, reduce the tourism income of an area and result in human health issues, identifying effective abatement policies is imperative to reducing waste and litter before it enters the ocean. Within Australia, state and local governments employ a plethora of policies, campaigns and strategies to target abatement and reduce litter and waste inputs to the environment. Waste managers were interviewed from 40 local councils around Australia on waste abatement strategies and investments implemented in their council. Generalised linear models (GLMs) were used to compare outreach programs (such as ‘Don’t be a Tosser’, Clean Up Australia and Bin your Butts cigarette campaign) and state-enacted policies (e.g. Plastic Shopping Bag Ban, Zero Waste Strategy and Recycling Strategy) aimed at targeting human behaviour to reduce waste. Investments in campaigns led to larger reductions of waste in the environment than did investment in policies. Illegal dumping, litter prevention, recycling, education and Clean Up Australia programs all significantly reduced waste along a council's coastline. Additionally, councils that invested in a coastal waste management budget had fewer littered or waste items on the coastline within their jurisdictions.

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