Turning the tide by reducing marine litter and 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: Egypt, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines and India
Partner: LafargeHolcim/Geocycle
Overall term: 2018 to 2021



Marine litter is a global problem, affecting marine and coastal biodiversity around the world. Scientists have detected plastics on remote beaches, the bottom of the sea and even in the Arctic. Sustainable solid waste management is the most effective way to prevent marine litter as it reduces plastics leaking from land-based sources into waterways and the ocean.


Environmentally and socially sound waste management solutions for reducing plastic leakage into the ocean are being implemented in five urban areas.


The project supports selected municipalities to improve their solid waste management systems. These not only contribute to the prevention of plastic pollution but also create employment opportunities. The project follows an integrated approach that respects the waste management hierarchy: prevent, reduce, recycle materials and recover waste. In this way, it supports local partners in understanding the pathways of plastic leakage and works with them to develop effective solutions. 

The project takes the following approach:

A global component complements the activities to reduce plastic pollution in the countries with conceptual work. This includes activities such as development of technical guidance such as guidelines of pre- and co-processing of waste and applying the plastic leakage tool in the local context. The project carries out activities in Egypt, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines and India that address the following aspects: 

  1. Improving land-based plastic waste collection and recovery systems to reduce quantities of plastics leaking into the marine and coastal environment, involving the informal waste sector.
  2. Raising awareness among the local population and selected stakeholders. The project informs people about the environmental and economic impacts of dumping waste and provides for a better understanding of how plastic leakage occurs. 
  3. Monitoring and collecting data on plastic leakage into waterways and the ocean to consolidate existing knowledge of where and how this takes place. This is followed up by designing adequate strategies and actions for prevention.
  4. Holding policy dialogues with public and private stakeholders 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.

The joint development partnership between LafargeHolcim (LH) and GIZ is an example of successful cooperation between the German development cooperation and the private sector. It is a develoPPP.de project, in which both sides combine their strengths to create a win-win situation for all parties involved. With its local networks, regional expertise and contacts to local governments, authorities, civil society and other actors, GIZ facilitates policy dialogues and ensures that regulatory frameworks are implemented together with local partners. The use of alternative fuels and raw material in cement production helps to reduce marine pollution and climate gas emissions. This, in turn, contributes positively to LH’s sustainability performance. Geocycle provides the technical expertise and co-processing capacities in the countries so they can become part of a local solution for preventing marine littering.


The project

  • initiated eight further projects to improve local waste management providing better waste services for about 100,000 people. 
  • Increased knowledge on waste management services for about almost 1,500 waste workers and 1,200 school pupils.
  • Created 50 jobs for waste workers, who were informally employed before. This resulted in improved living and working conditions though increased and stable income and provision of personal protective equipment. 
  • Updated global guidelines on pre- and co-processing of plastic waste in cement production (available in five languages).
  • Contributed to avoiding over 1.3 million plastic items through developing a practical guide to decrease unnecessary plastics in the hotel and tourism sector in Mexico.
  • Created higher awareness on preventing plastic pollution for about 30,000 people.

Last update: May 2021