Mapping the world’s plastic pollution

Key findings

Plastic pollution is one of the biggest, most urgent threats facing our planet and our health. Global Plastic Watch (GPW) is a digital platform that maps the world’s plastic pollution in near real-time using a unique combination of satellite imagery and artificial intelligence.

So far, we have detected and confirmed 3,999 sites in 100 countries and territories using the Global Plastic Watch tool. They include all of South-East Asia, Australia, and the top 20 countries in annual plastic leakage into the oceans according to scientific publication Science Advances.


More than 25 per cent of sites are within 250m of a waterway.

Of the 3,999 sites found, 1,056 (26%) are within 250m of a waterway.

A further 497 sites (12%) are within 100m of a waterway.



On average, 5,576 people live within 1km of a site and 129,886 people live within 5km.

Global Plastic Watch enables country level-efforts to better address and monitor those sites that pose environmental and health concerns.


The number of large-scale sites is greater than imagined.

Many large-scale waste sites Global Plastic Watch has mapped were previously undocumented and the number of sites is much higher than expected.


Explore the data

The data gathered provides a historical first and authoritative insight into one of the world’s most intractable environmental challenges – a deluge of plastic pollution which is threatening the oceans, harming communities, marine life, animal and human health.

By using it, governments, industry, researchers and communities can evaluate and monitor the risk of land-based plastic waste sites, as well as prioritise investments in solutions.


There are a number of ways governments, industry, the financial sector, researchers and communities can use Global Plastic Watch to reduce plastic pollution.



Using the data, governments can quickly identify higher-risk waste sites based on indicators such as proximity to water or communities; and prioritise areas for investment in waste and recycling infrastructure. Over time the data will demonstrate visible progress towards waste management targets.


Financial Institutions

Funders can use the freely available data in decision making, for example when creating resource deployment strategies or measuring return on investment on remediation and management programs.


Non-Government Organisations

Non-government organisations can use data to support community advocacy and campaigns, direct program strategy, and assist measurement and evaluation.


Research-Based Organisations

Researchers can use the openly available Global Plastic Watch data-set to strengthen recommendations in policy reports, data analysis in peer-reviewed publications, and form the basis of research into and responses to plastic and waste management.



Consumers can get informed about the world’s plastic waste problem and urge governments and industry leaders to take action against our plastic waste crisis.