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Iceland commits to reduce marine litter in its waters
by Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources (Government)
Iceland commits to reduce marine litter in its waters over the next three years. The aim is to reduce the use and increase recycling and appropriate treatment of all plastics, especially single-use items and used fishing gear. Focus will be on the prevention of marine litter entering the ocean from land-based and sea-based sources. To this end we will work to enhance knowledge of microplastics and their effects on the marine biota and humans and the identify measures to reduce discharge to the marine environment. Monitoring marine litter on Icelands coastline will be strengthened, as the basis for meaningful action and addressing the main sources of litter.

An action plan to reduce the use of plastic bags for the period of 2016-2018 is in place, and will be followed up. The action plan will be carried out in collaboration with the Federation of Trade and Services in Iceland, the Environmental Agency of Iceland and other relevant stakeholders. Stringent measures such as levy or a ban on plastic bags will be taken if statistics shows that set goals of the action plan and the agreement have not been achieved.

The Government and the fishing industry will continue to cooperate on the basis of an existing voluntary agreement on recovery and recycling of fishing nets made from plastic, overseen by the Icelandic Recycling Fund. Current recovery rate of fishing nets is close to 90%, but fees can be added to the price of fishing nets in case of non-compliance.

The Government of Iceland will focus on cooperation with stakeholders at national level as well as regional and international level to tackle the problem of marine litter. Iceland supports the UN Clean Seas Campaign and supports a ban on microbeads in cosmetics.
Progress reports
By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
Type of commitment
  • Other (please specify): awareness campaigns
  • Coastal clean-ups:
  • Plastics product bans or restrictions :
  • Plastics recovery/recycling/reuse:
OTHER POLLUTANTS (please specify)
  • Other (please specify): marine litter
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Scientific, socioeconomic and interdisciplinary research
  • Research capacity development
  • Data access and sharing
  • Scientific cooperation
May 2017
Based on estimation on 105 plastic bags pr. person the aim is to reduce the use by 14% by the end of 2019 and 60% by the end of 2025 (stocktaking in 2018).
May 2017
Awareness campaigns on the negative impacts of plastics and marine litter on the environment; coastline clean-up activities will be increased, including in partnership with NGOs and the general public.
Continued monitoring and analysis of marine litter on select coastlines for the identification of concrete measures to reduce marine litter.
September 17
Start an effort to enhance scientific knowlegde and research in fall 2017 of the effects of plastics, including microplastics, on the marine biota and humans for informed policy-making on the reduction of plastic pollution.
Staff / Technical expertise
Redirecting human resources for the implementation of Iceland's commitment to reduce marine litter.
Basic information
Time-frame: 2017 May - ongoing
Icelandic Recycling Fund (Government), Federation of Trade and Services in Iceland (private sector), Environmental Agency of Iceland (Government), and NGOs (TBC).
Ocean Basins
  • North Atlantic
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Sesselja Bjarnadttir, Head of Division, Department of Oceans, Water and Climate, sesselja.bjarnadottir@uar.is, +3548683182
Reykjavik, Iceland
Other SDGs
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