The role of modern society as a cause of littering

Part of the reason for the marine litter problem is the general lack of environmental awareness, as well as consumer habits. One third of the world's produced plastic ends up as packaging material. Much of this is single-use.

In the period 2012–2013, a shoreline litter survey conducted in Finland, Sweden, Estonia, and Latvia found that social and economic factors in society influence both the amount and quality of the litter.

On the shoreline, plastic rubbish is mainly an aesthetic nuisance for people. In the water, however, it will cause harm to aquatic animals.

The quality of rubbish varies by location

Urban beaches have the most litter because there are many visitors. They also display a "take away" consumer lifestyle. Much of the rubbish is plastic, e.g. bottle caps, bags and containers, as well as wrappers and cutlery. By contrast, the rubbish found on rural beaches is composed of more industrial litter, such as plastic ropes and building materials.

Many businesses activities may suffer from littering

Marine litter is not just an aesthetic nuisance for people. Tourism, shipping, fishing, fish farming, and coastal agriculture can all suffer financially as a result of littering. Rubbish causes both tangled propellers and engine breakdowns. Fishermen may also suffer from poorer catches, damaged nets, and fouling of the water in their fishing grounds.

Everyone is responsible for the littering of the Baltic Sea

Everyone can influence littering in the Baltic Sea through their own actions. The consumer behaviour and product choices of citizens affect the amount of waste, as well as its release into the environment.

Increasing awareness of the problem and spreading information about it to the public are important ways to reduce environmental pollution.