Plastic Drawdown

The plastic pollution crisis is incredibly complex and requires systemic, well-evidenced solutions. However, many countries lack the technical and financial resources to understand their plastic problem well enough to tackle it effectively.

Plastic Drawdown is a rapid, user-friendly tool to help decision-makers identify and deliver effective pollution mitigation strategies. Highly adaptable and cost-effective, Plastic Drawdown works within a country’s available resources to create and deliver the most effective mitigation strategy.

The Drawdown model has been developed and implemented in UK, Greece, Indonesia and Maldives and informed our work with 27 Commonwealth governments.

Plastic Drawdown helps governments identify which plastics to target, where they’re leaking into the environment and – given the resources available – how best to tackle them. It follows three steps:


Step One:
Mapping and modelling a country’s plastic pollution

Step Two:
Matching a country’s plastic problem with the right solutions

Step Three:
Working with stakeholders to turn strategy into action

Step One

Mapping and modelling a country’s plastic pollution

We identify which plastics are creating the most pollution in a country, and create a map of where, how, and in what volume plastic items leak out of the value chain and into rivers and seas. We then model the trajectory of that plastic leakage from today out to 2030.

Common Seas Flow Diagram Outlined2

Step Two

Matching a country’s plastic problem with the right solutions

Drawing on an in depth understanding of policy and technical guidelines, we identify which portfolio of policy interventions will best tackle the problem plastics we’ve identified in the country we’re working with. We create a wedges-based output to show the potential drawdown of plastic to 2030.

Here is an example of the wedges output that shows the potential drawdown of plastics through different policies – from today to 2030.

Diagram 06

Step Three

Working with stakeholders to turn strategy into action

We create scenarios to help decision-makers visualise and co-create the most effective strategy for their country. We help them turn strategy into action by convening stakeholders, and identifying and implementing next steps - such as finding funding, partners and R&D opportunities.

"Plastic Drawdown was critical in building the case for phasing out single-use plastics across the Maldives. The model gave the Maldivian Government the confidence to set an ambitious target to phase out single-use plastics by 2023, as announced by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih at the UN General Assembly in 2019. Common Seas delivered not only solid evidence for what we could achieve, but also practical advice on how to achieve it.”

Ibrahim Hood
Spokesperson for the President


Plastic Drawdown in action

The model is highly adaptable. So far, it has been used to:

  • Deliver national strategy, providing the evidence needed to commit to and meet ambitious plastic mitigation targets. See our work in the Maldives


  • Evaluate plastic mitigation policies, showing their relative strengths and weaknesses, and to visualise their impact over time.


  • Focus and align investment, Attracting the funders necessary to deliver circular economy solutions at scale. See our work in Indonesia


  • Co-create technical assistance projects with governments across the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance.


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