This publication aims to provide a complete overview of the global challenges related to marine litter and plastic waste through a combination of condensed descriptions of key thematic areas and graphic illustrations that visually display trends, challenges, interlinkages and solutions. It is structured to provide first a general overview of modern society’s use of plastics, covering plastic production, consumption and waste generation. It then moves on to look at the main sources and pathways of marine plastic pollution, highlighting important sources such as packaging, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, microplastics, and the effect of special events such as natural disasters and the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. This is followed by further elaboration of the fate and impacts of plastic pollution in the marine environment, broader impacts on human health, and economic costs for society. Based on the picture of the current situation, the publication moves on to cover possible solutions to the broader plastics challenge, addressing various components. It describes challenges and possible solutions in the different parts of the waste hierarchy, from waste prevention and minimization to waste collection, recycling, recovery and disposal. It also provides an overview of challenges and solutions related to bioplastics, waste management in developing countries and socio-economically disadvantaged areas, and challenges and opportunities related to gender balance in waste management. Finally, it provides an overview of governance and policy solutions, covering the Basel Convention, national policies, global responses through the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), other global and regional initiatives, monitoring and assessment components, and broader systemic perspectives.