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Preventing Ocean Plastic Pollution through Sustainable Waste Management

Open dump site with large pile of waste and plastic pollution next to an ecologically significant landscape

Tetra Tech is playing a central role in the global fight to reduce the estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic that flow into the ocean each year.

More than 11 million metric tons of plastic—the majority from land-based sources—leak into the ocean each year. This plastic pollution happens primarily in communities and cities that aren’t able to adequately collect and manage growing volumes of local waste. This not only impacts our oceans, but also the larger environment, climate, human health, and the livelihoods of communities around the globe.


  • Safely managed nearly 556,000 metric tons of waste and recyclables
  • Recovered and diverted more than 19,000 metric tons of plastic and waste
  • Improved air and water quality for 11.3 million people
  • Mobilized more than $12.6 million in investments for improved solid waste management systems
  • Formed more than 200 partnerships with local governments and private sector partners

Tetra Tech’s environment and solid waste experts are addressing these global crises as lead implementors of Clean Cities, Blue Ocean—the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) flagship program for combating ocean plastics under the Save Our Seas Initiative. The program works at the global level with a focus on rapidly urbanizing countries across Asia, the Pacific Islands, Latin America, and the Caribbean to address ocean plastics directly at their source. Working collaboratively with stakeholders, Clean Cities, Blue Ocean is reducing land-based sources of ocean plastic pollution and advancing local circular economies by:

  • Building the capacity of local governments for improved solid waste management
  • Strengthening local and regional waste systems, infrastructure, and markets for recycled plastic
  • Addressing livelihood challenges of workers in the waste and recycling sectors
  • Promoting social and behavior change, including increased adoption of reduce, reuse, and recycle (3R’s) practices
  • Advancing gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in the waste and recycling sectors

Clean Cities, Blue Ocean is partnering with the private sector to maximize impact and sustainability across all project objectives, facilitate access to a pipeline of projects, and incentivize private capital investment in the recycling value chain. Tetra Tech is designing interventions to address each stage of the value chain, prioritizing the most economically viable and environmentally sustainable solutions to address leakage points of plastic and other waste. Clean Cities, Blue Ocean’s development and implementation of locally relevant solutions to enhance solid waste solutions and promote the 3R’s establishes cleaner and more efficient waste streams.

Learn more about Clean Cities, Blue Oceans activities and impacts.

Climate Change Business Journal recognized Tetra Tech with a 2021 Consulting & Engineering Award in Climate Change Adaptation & Resilience for our work to combat ocean plastic pollution and reduce waste-linked greenhouse gases through improved sustainable waste management.

At a glance

Contract Value



U.S. Agency for International Development

Implementation Period

2019 – 2024


Environment, Marine and Coastal Management, Urban Areas

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