Toolkit: Marine litter retention, Funding for your project, Motivations for project sponsors

See also: Applying for EU funding | Other funding options

As mentioned above, there might be various reasons for organisations to sponsor your project. This section provides key messages that you might want to emphasise when you first meet with potential sponsors of your project.

Why should public sector organisations (EU, national government, regional and local authorities, public waste management companies, tourism authorities) co-sponsor your project (financially or in-kind)?

  • EU Member States have the obligation to achieve “good environmental status” for their marine environment by 2020 under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC). This includes the setting of binding targets on marine litter at the national and/or regional level, which has happened to a varying degree (see Art. 12 assessment report). In its Communication “Towards a circular economy” the Commission has set the aspirational target of 30% reduction by 2020 for the then most common types of litter found on beaches, as well as for fishing gear found at sea, with the list adapted to each of the four marine regions in the EU. Member States will also have commitments under regional action plans on marine litter. Supporting a marine litter retention initiative will help governments to reach these objectives. Check your national Marine Strategy Programme of Measures (to be in place by 2015) for more concrete elements on the national agenda. Contacting the national entity responsible for the MSFD may help you to identify opportunities for securing support for your project.
  • The Marine Strategy Framework Directive also aims to protect the resource base upon which marine-related economic and social activities depend. National, regional and local authorities have an interest in clean marine waters and shores since this will be beneficial for fishing activities, for the tourism sector as well as for the livelihoods of local coastal communities. Marine litter poses specific threats to the fishing industry, through the loss of fish stocks due to ghost fishing, spoiled catches through contamination, and damage to nets and to propellers. Marine litter might also pose risks to the aquaculture sector through damaged cages or contaminated stock. The tourism sector is also impacted by marine litter through aesthetic impacts and increased risks for marine-related leisure activities.
  • Local authorities can avoid costs for cleaning up shorelines, ports andharbours.
  • Public authorities have a responsibility to protect common goods such as public health, safety and the environment. Marine litter causes threats to marine wildlife due to digestion (over 180 species are known to ingest plastic debris), entanglement and toxicological effects due to contamination. Marine litter can reduce the quality of bathing water, potentially causing hygiene problems, and creates the risk of encountering hazardous materials to swimmers, divers and snorkelers. Contamination of food due to indigestion of (micro) plastics by fish has been raised as a risk; however, further evidence is required to fully understand this risk. 
  • Marine litter is recognised as a growing global problem. Recent EU policy proposals on a circular economy refer to necessary action to achieve a significant reduction of marine litter – a commitment also made at the Rio+20 Conference in 2012 and in the 7th Environmental Action Plan. While more comprehensive measures against marine litter will be needed to tackle the problem on a global scale, supporting a marine litter retention project is a concrete, immediate and symbolic opportunity for public authorities to show their determination in fighting this global phenomenon at the local level.
  • In addition to having a legal responsibility for managing waste from vessels, port authorities receive income from the fishing sector. Sharing the responsibility with the fishing sector for the costs of collecting marine litter may therefore be appropriate.


Why should private sector companies co-sponsor your project (financially or in-kind)?

There are a number of reasons why companies might want to support a marine litter project. If certain industries are seen as causing the marine litter problem, companies in these sectors may want to be seen to be contributing to the solution. Other companies may wish to provide support as part of their broader corporate social responsibility programme. Some private sector companies may also wish to support your project if they benefit directly or indirectly from cleaner seas and beaches. 

  • Plastic producing companies will often be aware of the fact that the most abundant type of marine litter is plastics (up to 80% on some shorelines). They might be interested in supporting a marine litter retention project as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.
  • National or regional (packaging) waste collection and (plastic) recycling systems might be interested in sponsoring given the links to their core business and reputational effects. The better they perform and the larger their coverage, the smaller the amount of litter eventually reaching water bodies. They might also support efforts to monitor and analyse the collected waste fractions since this can contribute to better knowledge about composition of marine waste and its optimal treatment. Although collected quantities will probably be too low to create significant revenue from recycling, this potential for revenue could also create some incentive to support your project.
  • For regional and local waste operators that are active in the area and in the port in any case, sponsoring a marine litter retention project can be done in-kind without a major additional effort, and could provide significant public recognition from the local community.
  • The shipping industry (cargo, passengers, fishing, research) is a major marine-based source of marine litter, even if dumping at the sea is forbidden (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships: MARPOL 73/78; EU legislation to prevent pollution from ships). Some shipping companies might thus be willing to sponsor a project as part of their CSR activities and combine it with awareness-raising in their company or within the sector.
  • Companies in the tourism sector (hotels, beach facilities, sailing or diving clubs) in your area might be aware that tourist facilities and recreational visitors discarding waste are a significant source of marine litter. They also base their business on a clean, healthy and visually enjoyable environment. Initiatives to reduce marine litter are thus in their interest and can be combined with awareness-raising campaigns.
  • Aquaculture companies might suffer from contaminated stocks or damages of their cages and might be willing to support a project on marine litter retention in their area.
  • Restaurants and others purchasing fish from the region may be sensitive about the quality of the products they buy. Contamination of fish due to plastics indigestion is a topic which receives increasing public attention. Supporting a local marine litter retention project might align with the promotional and high quality standard practices of some operators.

Involving the private sector as sponsor for your project has, in many cases, the benefit of strengthening the link between the concrete remediation activities of your project to a sector that contributes to the problem or benefits from its solution. To motivate companies to support your project, you might want to consider ways to provide public recognition of the contributions of your sponsors (via media, logo, website, etc.). Further information about this is provided in the section Project communication.