Pacific Plastics:
Science to Solutions

Our mission

The Pacific Plastics: Science to Solutions project brings together an international partnership, whose mission is to reduce plastic leakage in the Eastern Pacific region to conserve our oceans, protect marine wildlife and support people whose livelihoods depend on the health of this unique ecosystem. To do this, we support the development of a circular economic system for plastics through science, collaboration and citizen participation.

Oceans cover more than 70% of our planet. They are home to millions of species and are essential for human survival.
However they are in great danger! Plastic waste leaking into the oceans is a systematic failure, threatening marine ecosystems, biodiversity, and livelihoods globally.
The Eastern Pacific, an area of great ecological and economic importance, is under significant threat.
It is estimated that 45% of all plastic used along the Pacific coastline of Central and South America is inadequately managed, generating approximately a million tonnes of leaked plastic waste per year. It is likely that plastic waste has increased in 2020/2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This figure is set to double by 2025 if no action is taken.
Fish, seabirds and marine mammals can become entangled by or ingest plastics, causing death by suffocation, starvation or drowning.
Similarly, biodiversity loss threaten the fishing and tourism industries which underpin economies and support local livelihoods.
Remote islands are especially sensitive to marine plastic.
This is the case in Galapagos, which is under intense threat due to a combination of endangered endemic species and the high pollution load entering the Marine Reserve. The amount of plastics entering Galapagos is not reflective of local usage causing problems with the retrieval and disposal of plastic waste.

Galapagos sea lion © Tracy Jennings; Waste picker in Manta’s Dump, Ecuador © Mario Hidalgo; Seabird floating on plastic, Peru © Clara Ortiz Alvarez; Flightless cormorant, Andrea © Pasara Polack.

What are we doing to tackle this massive challenge?

Reducing the scale of plastic leaking into the  Eastern Pacific Ocean requires a systematic approach, addressing the cycle of plastic production, consumption and waste. With grants from the UK Research and Innovation’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the private sector, a network of world-class scientists will try to make this vision a reality. Led by the University of Exeter and in collaboration with NGO & Governmental agencies from across Ecuador, Chile, Peru, The Netherlands and the UK, the network will undertake cutting edge science, engage global citizens and support local grass roots initiatives to find and implement solutions to this problem.

Highlights from the PPSS network so far

Microplastic Research

University of Exeter & Galapagos Conservation Trust

The Galapagos Microplastic research explores the presence, composition and environmental drivers of plastic contamination across the marine ecosystem at an island scale,  identifying the most vulnerable vertebrate species in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands and the possible sources of plastic debris entering the archipelago.

Plastic Free Galapagos

Galapagos Conservation Trust & University of Utrecht

This project seeks to develop a predictive technology that will focus clean-up efforts and efficiently remove plastic pollution before it impacts sensitive wildlife and habitats. Combining ocean data, and using a particle tracking tool, the project will explore the sources of plastic pollution entering Galapagos.

COVID-19 lessons from the Global South

Catholic University of the North

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been extensively used, and discarded PPE has been observed in many different environments, including on tourist beaches. This research examined the distribution and densities of face masks on some of the main tourist beaches in Chile, and we monitored their daily accumulation rates on one beach in northern-central Chile.

Responsible Marine Life Manipulation


ProDelphinus’ YouTube channel seeks to provide tools and knowledge to the general public to understand how to correctly free marine life entangled in fishing nets or plastic pollution and return them to the sea while protecting the animal´s wellbeing. 

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