Home » INTERNATIONAL MARINE LITTER DATABASE » Economic incentives reduce plastic inputs to the ocean

Qamar Schuyler, Britta Denise Hardesty, TJ Lawson, Kimberley Opie, Chris Wilcox,

Economic incentives reduce plastic inputs to the ocean, Marine Policy, 2018,

ISSN 0308-597X,


Mismanaged waste and marine debris have significant
detrimental effects on wildlife, public health, and the economy.
Container dposit legislatione (CDL) is one of the many legislative
actions proposed by lawmakers to curb the amount of debris entering the

Beverage containers are consistently among the most commonly
littered items, so effective legislation could prove a significant lever
to reduce debris inputs to the marine environment. The effectiveness of
CDL at reducing the amount of beverage container litter on the coasts of
two countries, Australia and the United States, was evaluated by
comparing results of debris surveys in states with and without cash
incentives for returned beverage containers. The proportion of
containers found in coastal debris surveys in states with CDL was
approximately 40% lower than in states without CDL. Additionally, CDL
states had a higher ratio of lids to bottles, further demonstrating the
effectiveness of the incentives in removing bottles from the waste
stream. The reduction in beverage containers in the presence of CDL was
greater in areas with low socio-economic status, where debris loads are
highest. These results provide strong evidence that fewer beverage
containers end up as mismanaged coastal waste in states that provide a
cash refund for returned beverage containers. Findings are discussed in
the context of global governance, social license and opportunities to
reduce land-based litter inputs to the ocean.


Economic incentives reduce plastic inputs to the ocean

22. September 2020