Italy is a major country bordering the Mediterranean Sea. As part of the implementation of the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Italy has set a target for reducing marine litter. This study evaluates the effectiveness of current measures for meeting that target. The paper proposes a framework for analysis, which confronts the primary sources of marine litter (i.e. inadequate waste management, wasteful habits, and waste from productive activities) with the adopted measures (classified in: prevention, management, and monitoring and control). In applying this framework, the paper adopts a new approach that focuses on a few salient aspects of governance responses: current legislation, circular economy, specific waste management practices, and monitoring and control systems. In support of the evaluation, the paper provides detailed data on the current legislation, actors involved, waste management and enforcement activities. The study highlights that Italy is engaged in accomplishing marine litter reduction, even if the target lacks precise quantitative/qualitative details. Despite this shortcoming, the framework allows identifying strong (e.g. extensive legislation, increased awareness, improved collection of waste) and weak points (e.g. lack of a national waste strategy, problems of governance integration, monitoring and control activities to be improved). The latter predictably decrease the effectiveness of the actions against marine litter, thus making the target less reachable. This study suggests enforcing these points and developing an overall strategy based on a stronger commitment, better planning, and enforced coordination. In this regard, additional targets and indicators can significantly contribute to the increased effectiveness of governance measures.