In recent years, global attention to marine litter and plastic pollution has surged. Estimates show that rivers transport upwards of millions of tons of plastic into the oceans every year. Some 95% of that discharge comes from only 10 rivers, 8 of which are in Asia. Amongst those 8 are the Mekong and the Ganges rivers, the lifeblood for hundreds of millions of people in South-East Asia and India. However, scientific knowledge on marine plastic litter and effective countermeasures remains insufficient to tackle the problem properly.
The CounterMEASURE project works to identify sources and pathways of plastic pollution in river systems in Asia, particularly the Mekong and the Ganges. The project has developed plastic leakage models for localities in 6 different countries using an innovative and replicable approach. Deploying technologies like GIS, machine learning and drones has allowed the CounterMEASURE team to augment ground-level research in an efficient and scalable way. This scientific knowledge can then be used to inform policy decisions and actions to beat plastic pollution and ensure rivers are free of plastic waste.
CounterMEASURE is managed by the UN Environment Programme’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. We work closely with local and international partners, including governments, universities, NGOs and companies to conduct our research and develop our recommendations. CounterMEASURE is funded through the generous support of the Government of Japan.