Global Review of Beach Debris Monitoring and Future Recommendations

Catarina Serra-Gonçalves, Jennifer L Lavers, Alexander L Bond

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Marine debris is distributed worldwide and constitutes an increasing threat to our environment. The exponential increase in the level of plastic debris raises numerous concerns and has led to an intensification in plastic monitoring and research. However, global spatial and temporal patterns and knowledge gaps in debris distribution, both on land and at sea, are relatively poorly understood, mainly due to a lack of comprehensive data sets. Here, we critically review the quality of the available information about beach plastic debris worldwide to highlight where the most urgent actions are required and to promote the standardization of reporting metrics and sampling methods among researchers. From a total of 174 studies evaluated, 27.0% reported marine debris densities in metrics that were not comparable. Some studies failed to report basic parameters, such as the date of the sampling (9.8%) or the size of the collected debris (19.5%). Our findings show that current research regarding beach debris requires significant improvement and standardization and would benefit from the adoption of a common reporting framework to promote consensus within the scientific community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12158-12167
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number21
Early online date2 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2019


  • Bathing Beaches
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Plastics
  • Waste Products


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