Global Plastic Watch


We have answered some of the most frequently asked questions about Global Plastic Watch.

What is Global Plastic Watch?

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.

Using freely available data from the European Space Agency, GPW detects formal and informal open plastic waste sites on land and monitors their trends through time. For more information on GPW, visit the about section.

Why is Minderoo launching this platform?

At Minderoo, we take on tough, intractable issues with the potential to drive massive change. Plastic pollution is one of the biggest, most urgent threats facing our planet and our health.

Minderoo’s No Plastic Waste initiative is committed to creating a world without plastic pollution by championing a circular plastics economy and increasing transparency across the plastics supply chain.

We help industry, investors, governments and consumers make more informed decisions by raising awareness about how plastics are funded, produced, consumed and disposed of. It also encourages the public, industry, and government to take action, use less plastic, and support progress towards a circular economy for plastic.

Global Plastic Watch serves as a tool that stakeholders around the world can use to make decisions by increasing transparency. It will help guide and measure the effectiveness of waste management interventions, investments, and progress towards remediation.

Find out more about Minderoo Foundation, or read more about our No Plastic Waste initiative.

Why does identifying the location and trends in plastic waste matter?

Of the 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic produced since its invention in the 1930s, only nine per cent has ever been recycled. Every month, governments spend billions of dollars trying to manage this waste. Yet the amount of plastic we make — and the waste we produce — is rapidly increasing. Leakage rates into the environment are expected to triple in the next 20 years.

Knowing the precise locations and extent of plastic waste enables more effective waste management, site clean ups and better enforcement of laws against dumping.

Quantifying the environmental risks posed by existing plastic waste sites, such as their proximity to water or communities, is also critically important to the prioritisation of interventions and the securing of investment in waste and recycling infrastructure.

As we update the data over time, Global Plastic Watch will also demonstrate visible progress towards internationally agreed-upon commitments and related national targets.

Why does it help to visualise waste sites on a map?

By visualising the waste sites on a map, we are able to show the precise locations of plastic waste. On a local and national level, this allows relevant authorities to maximise the impact and efficiency of their interventions and prioritise them according to the immediacy of the risk posed to the environment.

On a global level, the map itself visualises the scale of the challenge we face. The first edition of Global Plastic Watch was published in April 2022 and will continue to be updated regularly as more data is analysed. So far, plastic waste has been mapped for 25 countries including all of South-East Asia. As the map continues to be updated we will be able to build an even fuller picture of the problem.

Does the platform help quantify the scale of the problem?

Global Plastic Watch 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.

The tool helps visualise the global scale of the problem and show its impact in a tangible way while creating an accurate and up-to-date data set that helps governments, industry and communities evaluate and monitor the risk of land-based plastic waste sites, as well as prioritise investments in solutions.

Beyond helping stakeholders quantify the problem, the tool also helps individuals visualise the plastic waste problem in a visceral way. By showing people that objects they interact with every day, such as plastic bottles or food packaging, can end up in waste sites posing a risk to the environment, the tool aims to help consumers connect their own actions to the global challenge and empower them to urge governments and industry leaders to take action against our plastic waste crisis.

Who can use it?

Global Plastic Watch is a publicly available tool for anyone to look at and use. It serves as a tool that governments, funding agencies, intergovernmental organisations, NGOs, scientific researchers and the general public can use to improve our understanding of the plastic pollution problem — and inform evidence-based decisions on how to mitigate it.

What is Minderoo doing to help address the problem of plastic waste?

Minderoo Foundation’s aim is to eliminate the negative effects of plastics on people and the planet by accelerating a circular economy for plastic waste and driving safe and sustainable design.

Through the No Plastic Waste initiative, we are working with scientists, businesses, governments, community leaders, and innovators with the goal to eliminate plastic leakage into the environment and accelerate a transition to a circular plastics economy.

We are creating partnerships and collaborating with industry on a global scale to develop new technologies that will provide countries with a means to measure, monitor and manage plastic pollution from source to sea.

How can I submit a case study to share how I used the data?

Email your case study through to us at:

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