Exploring public views on marine litter in Europe: Perceived causes, consequences and pathways to change

Bonny L. Hartley, Sabine Pahl, Joana Veiga, Thomais Vlachogianni, Lia Vasconcelos, Thomas Maes, Tom Doyle, Ryan d'Arcy Metcalfe, Ayaka Amaha Öztürk, Mara Di Berardo, Richard C. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Citations (Scopus)


Marine litter is a global challenge and society plays an important role via lifestyles and behaviour, including policy support. We analysed public perceptions of marine litter and contributing factors, using data from 1133 respondents across 16 European countries. People reported high levels of concern about marine litter, and the vast majority (95%) reported seeing litter when visiting the coast. The problem was attributed to product and packaging design and behaviour rather than lack of facilities or accidental loss of items. Retailers, industry and government were perceived as most responsible, but also least motivated and competent to reduce marine litter, whereas scientists and environmental groups were perceived as least responsible but most motivated and competent. Regression analyses demonstrated the importance of psychological factors such as values and social norms above sociodemographic variables. These findings are important for communications and interventions to reduce inputs of marine litter to the natural environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)945-955
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • Behaviour
  • Concern
  • Intention
  • Marine debris
  • Perception
  • Public understanding


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