Prevention of Marine Litter in India

 Quick facts

  • Project: Cities Combating Plastic Entering the Marine Environment (CCP)
  • Grant recipient: German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ)
  • Location: India
  • Duration: 1 May 2020 to 31 Oct 2023
  • Measures: Improvement to sustainable waste management practices; using digital solutions to generate data; identification of mechanisms for waste avoidance at the source; development of strategies for waste reduction; reuse and recycling, scaling up of household solutions; provisioning of digital and technological tools; development of a digital platform; raising awareness and capacity building.
  • Funding volume: EUR 5,800,000

Reducing marine litter: what are the specific challenges in India?

India’s coastline to the Indian Ocean is roughly 7,000 km long. For cities with a high population density in particular, effective waste management poses a major challenge. A large proportion of solid waste from legal and illegal landfill sites, as well as plastic waste from the roadside and sewer systems, ends up in the Indian Ocean.

While waste separation at the source has been introduced in many of India’s cities, it is still not yet a widespread practice. Roughly 40 percent of plastic waste generated is not collected at all, since waste collection is generally handled by the informal sector and many single-use plastic products do not have sufficient monetary value for the informal waste collectors. Around 90 percent of economically valuable waste such as PET plastic is recycled, however.

The private sector has increased its recycling capacities over a relatively short timeframe. In 2019, the import of plastics from other countries was prohibited. Yet India still remains one of the world’s largest producers of plastic and sources of marine litter.

How is the project helping to reduce marine litter?


The project is concentrating on reducing marine litter in the cities of Kochi, Kanpur and Port Blair, which are located in coastal regions, on islands or along rivers in close collaboration with the Indian partner institution, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA). Measures taken by the project include establishing a sustainable waste management programme in the cities (improvements to infrastructure), strengthening digital monitoring mechanisms and providing support for the development of national policy frameworks and guidelines.

These measures will help the selected cities to optimise the collection, separation and marketing of plastic waste, to prevent the disposal of plastic waste in bodies of water, and to improve the handling of portside and shipping waste in harbour areas. New systems are also being used to work on the tracking of waste streams and the management of data and reporting by adopting a multi-level and multi-stakeholder approach. This approach is also intended to involve actors from civil society and the recycling industry. In conjunction with changes to the rules for the commercial exploitation of solid residential waste from 2016, separation of waste at the source is now promoted, in order to enable its recycling and reuse.

The project aims to strengthen the role of state-level authorities in the management of plastic waste. Another goal is to facilitate improvements to the exchange of past experiences and best practices between municipal authorities. These include harmonised reporting systems and the establishment of digital communication platforms for the marketing of recyclable materials, as well as support for the introduction of extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation at state level.