Methods for determining the geographical origin and age of beach litter: Challenges and opportunities

Jannike Falk-Andersson*, Zhanna Tairova, Tora Tokvam Drægni, Marthe Larsen Haarr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Beach litter analysis is a cost-effective tool to identify litter sources and subsequent management actions. However, standard beach litter protocols are not generally developed to identify litter's origins and age. Data from Svalbard (North Atlantic/ Arctic Ocean) were therefore used to explore reliable methods to fill this knowledge gap. Written text and country specific brands, as well as printed production or expiry dates proved the most efficient and reliable identifiers. The use of product design and logos considerably increased the proportion of items that could be sourced (by 19%) and dated (by 22%). The successful use of these is defined by the expertise of the analysing team and may introduce bias. The bias can be reduced by developing picture guides and involving stakeholders. The analyses showed that littering is on-going and that the area's major fishing nations, Norway and Russia, dominated the identified litter (38% and 14%, respectively).

Original languageEnglish
Article number112901
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Arctic
  • Beach litter
  • Dating
  • Geographical origin
  • Methods development
  • Source identification


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