Marine litter and microplastics: Tools for the environmentally sound management of plastic waste

Resource Futures was commissioned by the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS Secretariat) to provide technical support to developing countries in tackling plastic waste.

During this Norad funded project, we worked with a team of international experts to developed a suite of toolkits and guidance documents to strengthen capacity for environmentally sound management of plastic waste in developing countries. The toolkit was piloted in Ghana and helped the Ghanaian government develop a National Plastic Management Policy. A number of other national pilots of these tools and guidance are currently underway.


Amendments to the Basel Convention, decided in 2019 and enacted in 2021, resulted in the expansion of its scope to include plastic waste covered in its remit, thus impacting the rules governing the movement of plastic waste across international boundaries.

The objective of the project was to help develop guidance and tools for the BRS Secretariat that would enable member countries to the Basel Convention to meet their national reporting requirements by:

  1. Creating national level plastic waste inventories to guide decision makers in tackling related pollution issues
  2. Strengthening the capacities of national and local governments with tools and approaches to address plastic pollution
  3. Enabling countries to understand the quantum of plastic waste pollution in order to address the pollution problem

Person sorting beach litter


Our work involved the development of a national level plastic waste inventory toolkit that enables countries to identify and quantify plastic waste flows in the country, including sources and levels of leakage of plastic into the environment. Preceded by a detailed scoping review of existing plastic quantification and monitoring methodologies to identify the gaps that a national plastic waste inventory could address and to understand what was already available to users. The toolkit was specifically designed for countries with varying degrees of data availability and waste management infrastructure.

“We need all the interventions and policy mechanisms at our disposal to tackle plastic pollution. Improving waste management services is critical. Resource Futures works with the UN BRS to help governments identify the interventions that suit their circumstances and help to reduce plastic pollution around the world.”

Resource Futures also compiled guidance for national governments on best practices for the Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of plastic waste. This was used to make recommendations on practices that could be applicable to the pilot countries as part of their national strategy for ESM of plastic waste.

Through the project timeline, a range of stakeholders were engaged through workshops and trainings held in the target countries. This involved other international experts, stakeholders from currently active national and global initiatives in the pilot country and local national experts.


The inventory toolkit was successfully piloted in Ghana providing key insights into the level of mismanaged plastic waste arising from the Municipal Solid Waste streams and key sources of their leakage. The ESM guidance was used to make recommendations on the elements of national strategy for ESM of plastic waste for Ghana.

The inventory toolkit and ESM guidance is set to undergo pilot testing in multiple geographies including countries in Asia and Africa, with Resource Futures supporting many of them, including the most recent pilots in Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Project Information

Services involved

Data and Tools

International Development


Team involved

Sarah Hargreaves
Behaviour Change Lead / Principal Consultant

Archana Pisharody
Senior Consultant