Reducing Plastic Leakage into the Ocean

Programme description

Title: Reducing Plastic Leakage into the Ocean 
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Philippines, Morocco, Mexico, Egypt
Partner: LafargeHolcim Ltd.
Overall term: 2017 to 2020


Marine litter is a global problem, affecting waterways and oceans around the world. Scientists have detected plastics on remote beaches, the bottom of the sea and even in the Arctic. Plastics can remain in the ocean for hundreds of years, and so more and more plastic collects there over time. 

Waste, and plastics in particular, are a major source of marine litter. A lack of the necessary infrastructure or proper solid waste management in many low-income countries are major causes of plastic leakage into the ocean. About 80 per cent of the oceans’ pollution comes from land-based sources. Marine litter can come from illegal dumpsites close to waterways, leakage from waste transports or unsanitary landfills, and littering on beaches and coastlines. It is very important to prevent marine litter in the first place and capture plastic waste before it enters waterways. Once in the water, it can transform into micro and nano-particles that are impossible to control.

Reports show that more than half of the plastic that enters the ocean comes from only five countries, including the Philippines. The collect-and-dump system is still common in the Philippines. However, this quick-fix solution is not enough to prevent waste, specifically plastics, from polluting waterways or ending up in oceans.


Environmentally and socially sound solutions for reducing plastic leakage into the ocean have been initiated in four urban areas in Egypt, Mexico, Morocco and the Philippines.


Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH will set up policy dialogues and ensure that regulatory frameworks are implemented together with local partners. With regard to social aspects, GIZ will make sure that informal waste workers are involved in the modern waste management systems and improve their working conditions. LafargeHolcim Ltd. is the leading global building materials and solutions company. The Group provides innovative products and building solutions with a clear commitment to social and environmental sustainability. LafargeHolcim Ltd. will provide the technical expertise and co-processing capacities in the four countries as part of a sustainable local solution for preventing marine litter. In co-processing, the energy and mineral content of waste is recovered and reused as fuel for energy generation and product additives in manufacturing.

Geocycle is a leading provider of tailor-made waste management solutions. Part of the LafargeHolcim Group, Geocycle provides industrial, municipal and agricultural waste management services to more than 10,000 customers in over 50 countries. In this partnership, Geocycle will provide the waste management services and expertise necessary to handle, pre- and co-process waste from non-recyclable fractions.

The strategic alliance between LafargeHolcim and GIZ utilises waste to come up with useful outputs that prevent plastic litter from ending up in coastal and marine environments.

1) Improving land-based plastic waste collection and recovery systems to significantly reduce the quantities of plastics leaking into the marine environment. The project includes the informal waste sector in generating value from recyclables. The focus lies on reducing land-based plastic leakage, rather than cleaning up existing litter from the ocean. 

2) Raising awareness by carrying out training courses and campaigns on ecological solid waste management for local leaders and community members.

3) Organising policy dialogues with public and private sector partners as well as civil society to improve regulatory frameworks for managing waste effectively and to increase political buy-in and financing for sustainable solid waste management.

4) Monitoring and collecting data on plastic leakage into the ocean to better understand how plastics reach the ocean and to design adequate strategies and actions to prevent marine litter.

The Strategic Alliance in the Philippines has concluded an agreement with Mother Earth Foundation (MEF). It is widely known for successfully training communities, local government units and private sector establishments all over the Philippines to effectively plan and implement ecological waste management programmes. MEF provides local, low-cost, and low-technology approaches and solutions that can be widely adopted and replicated.