What is ocean-bound plastic?

You might have seen it printed on the label of a shampoo bottle. Or maybe you’ve even read it on our channels or heard it on the news. Wherever you’ve picked it up from, it still might beg the question:


Well, as the name suggests, it’s plastic waste that is bound for the ocean (duh :-D). As in, it’s plastic that is close enough to shore that it is in danger of becoming marine plastic. But for something you would assume to be fairly straightforward, “ocean-bound” is a contested term in academic circles.

A majority of organizations see ocean-bound plastic as plastic that can be found within 50km (30 miles) of the shore, but even this facet can be highly contested. 50km is a long distance. If a waste management center is found within this range, can it still be called ocean-bound if it has the potential to be adequately taken care of before it reaches the water? It’s something that has been up for debate, and the exact parameters of what constitutes “ocean-bound” plastic are constantly being revised.

Some researchers have also made further suggestions to the definition. Additions include whether or not the plastic is found in an area that lacks a good waste management infrastructure, whether or not the area is being overwhelmed by tourism or population growth, and if there is a significant risk to wildlife from plastic contamination.


It’s all to do with how plastic waste is managed - or mismanaged, as it were. Managed plastic waste is waste that has been appropriately processed. It’s either been disposed of carefully and responsibly, or it’s been recycled and reused. Mismanaged waste is a bit trickier to define, but most companies - including ourselves - consider any waste that has entered the environment to be mismanaged waste.

Mismanaged waste can enter the water in a variety of ways if not intercepted. Plastic waste can travel from where it has entered the environment to the shore by being blown, swept, or carried by wind, rain, and rivers. Mismanaged waste can also include the waste that has been littered in the immediate area.


Good question. An increasing number of companies that aim to reduce their plastic consumption have taken to reusing ocean-bound plastic to make their packaging. This approach to a truly circular economy is pretty much vital to preventing our waste from becoming marine plastic.

So when shopping next time, you might wanna look for the bottles that have ocean-bound printed on the side to help do your bit to prevent ocean pollution.

We’re turning the tide on ocean plastic, but we need your help. Reach out to Rodney@cleanhub.com to find out how your business can do its part in creating cleaner oceans.