At the origins of Plastic Pollution


.Have you ever wondered why so much waste ends up in the sea and on our beaches? Many of them come from inland. 80% of plastic waste is transported by rivers and streams before ending up in the ocean. Today, you can contribute to limit this pollution at its source, we explain you how.

Plastic pollution: from our rivers to the ocean

With the Plastic Origins (PO) project, Surfrider is working to rethink the fight against the massive dumping of plastic in our ocean. When we know that the vast majority of this pollution enters our rivers and streams, and therefore occurs upstream, why would we wait for it to reach the open ocean to be concerned?

Cleaning our beaches is not a long-term solution when we know that waste will continue to flow in every day. We are talking about a pollution that can be avoided, if it is correctly identified and treated at its source.

The objective of Plastic Origins is to identify the most polluted waterways and provide local stakeholders, such as local authorities, with solutions to address this pollution.

We are talking about 80% of waste coming from inland, but in practice how does it end up in our rivers?

Understanding the origin of waste

The reasons why a lot of waste ends up in the marine environment are diverse: poor waste management, incivilities and negligence, wind, floods or even the hydromorphology of the river (i.e. the current or the slope for example). All these mechanisms of introduction have the same result: plastic waste ends up in our rivers before progressing slowly to the ocean.

This is why Surfrider has developed the Plastic Origins application based on participatory science: by reporting waste found in rivers you can help us build a map of river pollution across Europe.

"What we find most are plastic fragments in the vegetation, but also household items such as bottles, masks, packaging and also a lot of elements from construction sites and agricultural fields"  - Océane Lepatre, Plastic Origins Project Manager

All of the waste found is 100% of human origin, coming from various activities, whether individual, industrial or agricultural. The good news? We are 100% able to reduce and stop it. 

Taking action against plastic pollution at the source

The Plastic Origins application is used to list and map the waste found in rivers and streams across Europe. With the arrival of summer, if you are an outdoor enthusiast: hiking, kayaking or paddling, you can become an actor of change in the fight against plastic pollution. Become a whistleblower and accompany local actors towards solutions to reduce at its source the pollution that their territory suffers. 

Together we can slow down the plastic pollution race. The solutions exist and it is by working together that we can build them. Would you like to get involved with us? Contact or visit the Plastic Origins website for more information.

Let's preserve our rivers and streams for a healthy ocean. 

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The passion for the oceans, the coastline and the pleasures animate everyone who supports Surfrider and guides the organization's action.


Surfrider is rooted in the value of sharing and participation through inclusion and diversity.


Surfrider seeks a harmonious relationship between humans and nature.