Economic valuation of marine litter and microplastic pollution in the marine environment: An initial assessment of the case of the United Kingdom



Discussion Paper 126 | Centre for Financial & Management Studies | SOAS, University of London Marine litter and microplastics are present in every ocean on a global scale andmarine organisms at every level of the food web can ingest microplastics.Contamination of plastic particles in particular has been identified since the1970s within the environmental status monitoring programmes, and the MarineStrategy Framework Directive targets a significant reduction in levels of marinelitter by 2020.  It is thus important to raise the awareness of the potentialeconomic consequences of marine litter and microplastics as they adverselyimpact the quality of the marine environment, the economy, wildlife and publichealth and safety.  So far only a few studies have explored the economicconsequences of marine litter and there have been none on microplastics. Thisstudy extends an existing approach to estimate cost, considering the potentialeconomic impact of marine litter on maritime and marine economy, andmicroplastics on marine organisms. This stochastic approach includes direct andindirect use-value components within a framework of a total economicvaluation model in order to tackle the uncertain effects of marine contaminantsand pollutants of plastics and microplastics on marine organisms. A benefitcost-ratiorepresents here the loss of ‘economic benefits’, where costs could have been avoidedby mitigation of marine litter and microplastics pollution.


  • Centre for Financial & Management Studies - SOAS


  • Jeo Lee

Publishing Date




  • English

Waste type

  • Marine litter
  • Plastic

Area of intervention

  • Research
  • Climate Impact
  • Financing
  • Health Impact


  • United Kingdom

german cooperationFederal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Developmentsupported by The State Government of North Rhine-Westphalia