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Expression of interest: Tracking the sources and pathways of plastic waste into the marine environment


Globally, it is estimated that 80 percent of the ocean plastics come from land-based sources. While coastal countries, which have direct connection to marine environment, are regarded as the main contributors, via mismanaged solid waste, the contribution to marine litter by landlocked countries may also be significant. Rivers are one of the main vectors for transportation of solid waste downstream and ultimately to the oceans. Globally, there has been considerable effort to calculate the amount of mismanaged plastic entering the marine environment. However, these figures remain broad and don’t necessarily reflect the situation at the national or sub-national scales. There is a need to focus on a smaller geographical scale, for example a country or river basin, and to gather systematic information on hotspots for leakage of plastic waste and debris into the environment, and to quantify the amount of plastic waste that enters the ocean.

GRID-Arendal ( is a Norwegian non for-profit foundation with highly qualified staff that specializes in complex environmental issues. Its mission is to support environmentally sustainable development through the environmental work of the UN and other partners by communicating information that strengthens environmental management capacity and motivates decision-makers to act. Through its work supporting African coastal states in addressing marine litter, GRID-Arendalis establishing a number of pilot projects to support countries to identify priority actions that will help prevent plastic waste from entering the marine environment. The results of these projects will help inform actions for the mitigation of plastic pollution and to focus beach clean-up activities.

Main activities

The aim of the work under this Expression of Interest is to advance the standardised quantification of macro-plastic pollution in a low- or low middle-income country and gain an in-depth understanding of the sources, pathways and fate of waste plastic leaking into the environment, with a particular focus on identifying the pathways and quantifying the amount of plastic waste entering the marine environment.

Objectives are to

  • Establish a standardised methodology, to quantify sources and pathways for leakage of plastic waste into the environment at the scale of a country or river basin, including the quantification of sources of plastic waste based on economic activity and in areas with low waste related infrastructure and service provision.
  • Quantify the sources, pathways and amount of plastic waste entering the marine environment.
  • Link the standardised methodology with a structured approach for identification and prioritisation of interventions to prevent plastic pollution from entering the marine environment.

Outputs and activities

  • Select, in consultation with GRID-Arendal and partners, a geographical area on the basis of an identified need for mitigation of plastic pollution.
  • Engage with local partners, as identified by GRID-Arendal, within the selected geographical area to collect existing information on plastic waste.
  • Coordinate field data collection activities in collaboration with GRID-Arendal and local partner organisations, particularly around waste and resource management and plastic pollution related data.
  • Work with GRID-Arendal to identify and test the suitability of methodologies to advance automated and manual data collection methods, including data mining and sensory based approaches, to supplement existing knowledge on plastic waste.
  • Apply and further develop the existing models for quantifying the amount of macro-plastic debris entering the environment from human activities, with particular focus on identification of leakage hotspots and quantifying the amount of plastic waste entering the marine environment.
  • Build, organise and maintain a database of model inputs and results.
  • In collaboration with GRID-Arendal, help to develop a structured approach to prioritising actions that will address plastic waste leakage hotspots.
  • Support GRID-Arendal in disseminating and communicating project outputs to end-users.

Required qualifications

  • Capacity to undertake and interpret research:
    i. Exhibiting sufficient understanding of the marine litter problem and current global research into marine litter
    ii. Capacity to mobilise sufficient, appropriately qualified personnel to lead and undertake monitoring tasks including at least one senior person possessing a PhD Degree
    iii. Advanced experience in waste management and quantification of plastic pollution sources and transfer mechanisms
  • Technical skills to:
    i. Implement a modul and run data analysis.
    ii. GIS and mapping
  • Proven ability in:
    i. Research
    ii. Scientific method and in systemic approach
    iii. Data collection, management and interpretation
    iv. Writing project reports

Duration: February 2020 – December 2020

Type: Independent consultancy contract / Service providing contract

Requirements for submitting an Expression of Interest should include the following:

  • Detailed project proposal and financial offer based on daily rates (incl. VAT) for the contractual period.
  • Application should include a cover letter (1-page max) and curriculum vitae (including contact details of at least 2 referees for which similar work has been undertaken) of implementing staff.
  • Implementation time line.

Consultants will be selected based on demonstrated expertise and cost.

Please send your application by email to and mark in the subject: EOI Tracking plastic waste into the marine environment.

Deadline for application: 25 January 2020- 4pm CET

For more information, please contact Ms. Ieva Rucevska by email, Programme leader Waste Programme.

Type: Independent consultancy contract / Service providing contract

Duration: 11 months

Starting date: 2020-02-01

Ending date: 2020-12-31

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