In the business of dirty oceans: Overview of startups and entrepreneurs managing marine plastic

Hanna Dijkstra*, Pieter van Beukering, Roy Brouwer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Plastic pollution, especially in marine environments, is a global problem that is currently inadequately managed. Solutions for marine plastic can occur through policy, behavior change and infrastructure improvements, but also through entrepreneurial ventures and technological innovations. Currently, information about these ventures and innovations is scattered and lacks coherence. This study presents the first comprehensive overview of entrepreneurial and SME led solutions for marine plastic by analyzing a database of 105 SMEs categorized into four functions: prevention, collection, transformation and monitoring. We find that small businesses are successfully commercializing goods and services to reduce the damage of plastics on the marine environment through innovative business models, with a steep growth of startups founded between 2016 and 2019. However, efforts to manage marine plastic are still underdeveloped in many areas, including microplastic management and monitoring. Practitioners, policymakers and researchers can utilize the database to identify solutions, best practices, synergies and avenues for further research, such as quantifying the environmental impacts of this industry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111880
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Early online date8 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Business models
  • Innovation
  • Marine plastic pollution
  • Sustainable entrepreneurship


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