Photography competition

The Plastic Waste Partnership (PWP) was established in 2019 under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal to improve and promote the environmentally sound management of plastic waste. The PWP’s long-term goal is to eventually eliminate the discharge of plastic waste and microplastics into the environment – particularly in the marine ecosystems.

In 2020, the PWP launched a photography competition to spotlight how plastic waste pollution affects the daily lives and environment of many people around the world. Entries were evaluated by a jury of experts, and winners were announced during the Plastics Forum of the 2021/2022 meetings of the conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (2021/2022 BRS COPs).


Osvaldo-Patricio Alvarez-Perez
Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention

Jewel Batchasingh
Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer - Caribbean

Sara Hylton
Photographer, Explorer
National Geographic

Ingeborg Mork-Knutsen
Head of Section - Pollution Control and Decommissioning
Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment

Rolph Payet
Executive Secretary
Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions

Paul Rose
Expedition Leader, Broadcaster
National Geographic, United Nations


Professionals category
Vincent Kneefel, the Netherlands

Amateurs category
Sufyan Arshad, Pakistan

Under 18 category
Sienna Goldstein, Seychelles


A filter feeding manta ray attempts to feed in the middle of a plastic soup. Recent research has shown that these manta rays ingest as much as 137 pieces of plastic an hour, which can be lethal and exposes their population to unknown long-term risks.
A young green sea turtle (Chelonia Mydas) comes up for a breath amongst debris of all sorts. Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The moment a youngster swims beneath a river polluted with plastics and other wastes in Bocaue, Philippines.
When we began our deliveries of donated educational and medical supplies to small, remote islands in 2004, most of the area we sailed in was still relatively clean. I can remember making faces when the odd water bottle or fast-food container drifted by. By 2018 that had changed, radically. By the time I grabbed the camera and climbed aloft to take this picture, we had already passed through the worst. This patch stretched for at least a kilometer to either side of us and was a good 100 meters wide. Little wonder we spend so much time supporting waste management and environmental education programs.
Major drainage systems in Accra, Ghana's capital city, empty single-use plastic waste into the ocean through the Korle Lagoon. The urban poor sometimes swims in it to recover recyclable plastics.
It is not very easy for these boys to live in the environment in which they fight every day for food. The boys find plenty of food and stuff from the dirt all day long. By selling the finished goods at the end of the day, it's a kind of daily war. Image taken from the Depot of the City of Chittagong City of Bangladesh.
‘Crying Girl Beside the House’ tells the story of a kid who grew up in a coastal squatter area in Sandakan, Sabah. The picture shows the daily activities of the kids that live in their environment. However, with the lack of facilities and awareness that exists among the residents in these squatter areas, their living environment becomes dirty and unmanaged. This creates an unhealthy environment for the growth of children and future generations. This picture was taken without special planning. The resulting image depicts the survival of squatter communities struggling with lack of facilities and awareness of hygiene levels as a result of lack of community awareness on how to manage waste causing pollution and destruction of ecosystems that help people live healthily. According to Suzianah Jiffar, at least 36 squatter settlements are the cause of the problem, affecting the image and beauty of cities around Sabah. Garbage piles collected by Kota Kinabalu City Hall in several squatter village areas around Sabah amount to 216,000 kilograms per month (Jiffar, 2016).
A plastic waste picker / scavenger traveled with the recyclable plastic he had recovered on his head to a dumpsite where middlemen would later come to buy it for recycling. He depends on this as a source of employment. Plastic waste pickers play a leading role in informal plastic waste recovery. They help to reduce waste, the cost of cleanups, and supply secondary materials to industries.
A woman in the city Mandi Bahauddin Punjab, Pakistan, is collecting and grading plastic bottles to sell them in the factory. This is her means to feed her family due to the lack of resources in the region. In other words, this image is portraying the poverty of our society in a transparent way. However, every year, more than 8 million tonnes of plastic enters the water (rivers, lakes or oceans), the equivalent of pouring a garbage truck of plastic every minute. This plastic dumping has an effect on aquatic fauna, fishing, tourism, transport, and human health. We generally consume plastic for less than an hour, but it lasts hundreds of years on the earth. Some people, like this lady, work for their own survival as well as for the planet by transporting plastic waste to the recycling factories.
This local beach has become an illegal dumpsite for local waste. One of the residents was burning the plastic so it doesn’t enter her house at high tide.
Up close and in plastic
Cultivating plastic
This scene appealed to me because there are so many elements of nature in this photo such as the sea, sky, and grass, yet the rubbish still overshadows the beauty of the sunrise and the peacefulness symbolised by the cross. It still amazes me that rubbish can be found in the most serene places.
This photo is taken on the beach in the small village of Trstenik, on the Pelješac peninsula in Croatia, after a strong windstorm from the South returned from the Sea what we gave it.
When I was living in Bretagne, I used to go surfing with my friends on a beach in the village of Plouharnel. During the winter, while the tourists left the seaside and the weather was getting rough, the beaches used to get totally filled with trash brought by the sea currents. Although many volunteers were mobilized to clean the beach, the trash, and especially plastic trash, was coming back, again and again. It was like a continual invasion, and I had the feeling that except for the local people, nobody cared. So, I decided to create monsters with the trash, and to send anonymous emails to the local and the national medias, with the portraits of the monsters, saying that an invasion of plastic monsters was occurring on the seaside.
I was born in 1960 in Split, Croatia. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved spending my free time outdoors, in nature. I prefer clear mountain areas, woods and water. That is how this photo was taken – I was walking in nature about 30 km from Split after a great storm. What was once beautiful nature has become a polluted and unpleasant place. I was sad and disappointed with this human-made scene.
The goat belongs to a resident of the Bajou tribe on Tiworo Island, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. This small island has a lot of plastic waste carried by ocean currents and gathering on the beach. In plain view, you can see more plastic waste than grass covering the island area. The livestock on this island are very well adapted to this garbage-filled environment.
Residents are fishing and looking for fish on a riverbank filled with plastic waste in the Brantas River, Malang City, East Java Provice, Indonesia. The Brantas River divides the city of Malang. There are about ten thousand buildings alone along the river. Residents who live along the river treat the river as a trash can. All household waste is dumped into the river and pollutes the water. Research conducted by Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation (Ecoton), shows that the quality of the Brantas River is poor, and contaminated with microplastics.
Trash heap near the Adriatic Sea where the wind "Bura" spreads plastic waste. Today the situation is much better.
This picture was taken a few years ago on holiday in Tuscany near San Vincenzo, Italy. We were exploring the coastal town and took a stroll along the beach. Looking down at the sand, you could see copious numbers of small pieces of broken down plastic and industrial plastic pellets, in all shapes and colours. It was the first time I’d seen this much plastic washed up on a beach and began to understand the magnitude of marine plastic pollution.
Jacqueline Elbing-Omania is a public-school classroom teacher in Berkeley, California, USA, and an Heirs to our Ocean Chapter Leader. “My classroom is the first Zero Waste classroom in our entire city of Berkeley California. For the 180 days of school my students have worked together to be waste free. We generated only a one-quart jar of waste (a little less than a liter) for the entire school year. We did this by choosing reusable items and planning in advance for not making waste. The word of our success went out and the students were invited to a press conference with the mayor. This is at that event which was held at the Waste Transfer Station in Berkeley California. What you see behind the youth is a day of plastic waste (“recyclables”) generated by our town. The students learned from articles and film that plastic recycling is a myth. It is largely not happening, and plastic is also exported to countries like the Philippines where Sam (center child) has roots and has seen the impact firsthand.”
Two boys look towards a section of Njoro River in Nakuru County in Kenya that is heavily polluted with plastic drinking bottles. The river that originates from Mau Forest collects plastic waste and other debris as it flows through residential areas in Nakuru, finally emptying all of its contents in Lake Nakuru, a UNESCO designated World Heritage site. Plastic waste is a big environmental menace and environmentalists are urging the government to enact tough regulations to control plastic waste from ending up in the environment.
I am Jurgita, mother of two children. I live in Lithuania. I work as an environmental protection specialist in a company. I like to read, take photos, visit nature. Lithuanian forests are our greatest treasure. From ancient times, the forest has been of special significance to the people of our country. In the forest, many people are looking for fresh air and tranquility. To preserve Lithuanian forests, they must be constantly replanted and protected from pollution. My dreams and aspirations are ecologically minded people, a green and healthy nature for Lithuania and an environmentally friendly world. I understood the message of nature that the forest sent me. It’s so sad to see the message in the plastic bottle waste.
A large number of homeless women in Dhaka, Bangladesh have lost their homes and properties through floods, river erosion and other natural calamities, and come to the city in the hope of a better future. These people have no place to hold themselves. Their day starts in dump streets and ends at the roads of nowhere. A concrete covered street is a bed of roses for these refugees who actually do not possess any identity. They are basically street hackers, labourers, etc.
Sunset photographed through a plastic bag that washed up on a beach in Croatia. It is becoming a rare sight to see clean beaches, and this image captures a striking contrast of beautiful sunset and pollution that is taking over nature.
The Buriganga River is a river in Bangladesh that ranks among the most polluted river in the country. It flows past the southwest outskirts of Dhaka city. This photo was taken on Rasulpur bridge main link road, Kamrangirchar, Dhaka, a highly populated community. This was a river channel of the Buriganga River. Just around twenty years ago this channel was an active commercial waterway. It was also used an important communication pathway from Dhaka North to Dhaka South. It had an average depth of 7.6 meters (25 feet). But because of public ignorance and huge use of single-use plastic now, the river has turned into a “Plastic River” without water.
I took this image on the home reef of a small coastal village in the Banggai Archipelago, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. While the villagers have sought to care for their reef in numerous ways and implemented regular beach clean-ups, the volume of plastic now being used in the village and surrounding villages is difficult to keep up with, as there is no municipal waste management system in place. Thus, numerous plastic bags end up in the ocean, looking to me like ghost jellyfish - a hollow deceit for animals that prey on jellyfish, like sea turtles.
The archipelago of islands off the coast of Panama known as the San Blas are home to the indigenous people of Panama and Colombia. The Guna Yala tribe are suffering from a plastic invasion. Like a cancer, this man-made material encroaches their islands, toxifying what was paradise. Along with rising sea levels, the Guna people are being forced to evacuate to the mainland. In the not-so-distant future, the culture and traditions of these people may be lost forever.