The Plastic Waste Partnership: photography contest

Plastic waste – A Global Problem

The pollution of our marine and terrestrial environment by plastic waste is one of the most pressing global environmental challenges faced today. Over the last ten years, we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century: global plastic production has increased steadily and reached 320 million tonnes a year. Of the estimated 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste produced since the 1950s, only 9% has been recycled and another 12% incinerated. An estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic is in our seas, 80-90% of which has come from land-based sources. The good news is, since an estimated 80% of that land-based waste is due to a lack of efficient collection and management schemes, the problem is solvable.

Plastic Waste Partnership

The Basel Convention, the UN’s multilateral environmental treaty on the prevention, minimisation and sound management of waste, is providing a platform that unites stakeholders from governments, international organisations, NGOs, academia, and industry towards the common objective of eliminating the leakage of plastic waste into our environment.  The Plastic Waste Partnership (PWP), initiated in May 2019, is mobilising its broad stakeholder base to tackle the issue of plastic pollution on multiple fronts: from stimulating the development of strategies to strengthen policy and regulatory frameworks within countries; to developing solutions to improve the collection, separation and sound management of plastic waste; and stimulating innovations for increasing the durability, reusability, reparability and recyclability of plastics. The Partnership creates a collaborative environment promoting the sharing of experiences, best practices and technologies towards this common objective.


On the inaugural day of its first meeting on 2 March 2020, the Plastic Waste Partnership will launch a photography contest to promote outreach, education and awareness-raising on the global plastic waste crisis. The contest welcomes entries from all walks of life: from amateur to professional photographers, of all ages. Through the contest, the Partnership wants to shine a light not only on the plastic waste problem, but also the solutions out there, our collective progress to date and the challenges and opportunities moving forward. As the recent COVID-19 pandemic has seen a soar in the amount of single-use plastic waste generated, giving visibility to the problem and the solutions has become more pressing than ever before.

Entered photos will be judged by a panel including the National Geographic Photographer Sara Hylton, and winning images will be used for a Basel Convention plastic waste calendar and displayed at the 2021 meetings of the Conference of Parties, or Triple COPs, in Geneva Switzerland!


Contest participants are invited to submit their entries in the following six categories which relate to the impacts of the plastic waste problem, the progress we’ve made and where we need to focus our attention:

  1. Let’s go outside! - Plastic waste and nature
  2. Plastic waste and our health and livelihoods
  3. Tiny but everywhere: Microplastics
  4. Let’s use it! - Plastic waste as a resource
  5. Let’s do it! - Solutions for avoiding single-use plastic products
  6. Let’s fix it! - Alternatives, new technologies and innovation


There will be three (3) winners per category – one amateur adult, one professional adult, and one child (under 18 years). Exciting awards and visibility will be offered for each winner.

The winning entries will be used to produce an 18-month calendar which will be gifted to participants at the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions in 2021. They will also be displayed at an exhibition organized during the meetings of the Conferences of the Parties, as well as in an exhibition in Geneva, organised in collaboration with the City of Geneva.  In addition, all the entries will be posted on a dedicated section of the BRS conventions webpage.

There will also be a range of exciting prizes offered. Watch this space for more details!


Photographs can be either in colour or black and white

They must be in JPEG format

Minimum size: 1.5 MB (within 2048 x 1536 pixels or 1536 x 2048 pixels)

Winners may later be requested to submit JPEG images with higher resolution.

To enter

Photos should be submitted using the online form, found here:  

By submitting photos, the photographer is acknowledging compliance with the Photo Contest Regulations, found below.


  1. All entries are submitted free of charge.
  2. Each individual can submit a maximum number of 3 entries.
  3. The entry must be an original photograph taken by the participant.
  4. All entries need to be properly labelled and accompanied by the registration form containing the following information:
    • Category
    • Name of the submitter
    • Nationality
    • Contact details, including a valid e-mail address.
  1. Any shipping costs arising from the entry are the responsibility of the submitter.
  2. Each participant can only submit one entry per category (but each participant can submit up to a maximum of 3 entries, provided they are submitted under different categories).
  3. Only one participant per entry is allowed (i.e. no teamwork).
  4. By participating in the contest, the participant acknowledges and confirms that the submitted entry does not infringe on applicable laws and regulations, including data protection law, rights of privacy, the copyrights, trademarks, rights of publicity or any other intellectual property rights and other rights of any person or entity and that no other party has any right, title, claim or interest in the submitted entry.
  5. The entry shall not violate the intellectual property rights and other rights of whatsoever nature in any materials produced by or in relation to the activities of the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS Secretariat), which shall be retained by the BRS Secretariat. The participant shall only use the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions’ names, logos and emblems, in connection with the activities under the present photography contest and with the prior written informed consent of BRS Secretariat or as may otherwise have been approved by the BRS Secretariat within the context of its activities. In no event will authorization of the Basel, Rotterdam or Stockholm Conventions’ name’, logos or emblems, or any abbreviations thereof, be granted for commercial purposes.
  6. The entry must not contain obscene, defamatory, profane, libellous, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful, provocative or otherwise objectionable or inappropriate content, which would violate applicable laws and regulations, including on data protection, privacy, other rights of any individual or entity.
  7. The BRS Secretariat reserves the right to reject, delete or edit any content that it considers unacceptable or inappropriate.
  8. By participating in this contest, the participant confirms being aware of BRS Secretariat’s policies and statement on privacy as well as the terms of use displayed on the BRS Conventions’ website.
  9. By participating in this contest, participants agree that the BRS Secretariat will keep digital copies of their entries.
  10. By entering this contest, participants acknowledge that they are aware that their entries will also be used for outreach activities at the discretion of the BRS Secretariat, and agree to it.
  11. The decision on the winning entries is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  12. Any dispute arising out of or in connection with the contest shall be settled amicably. Should attempts at amicable negotiation fail, any such dispute shall, upon request by either party to the dispute, be referred to arbitration in accordance with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) arbitration rules. The parties to the dispute shall be bound by any arbitration award rendered as a result of such arbitration as the final adjudication of any such controversy, claim or dispute.
  13. BRS shall not accept any liability for claims arising out of the activities performed in the context of the contest, or any claims for death, bodily injury, disability, damage to property or other hazards that may be suffered by the participant or any other person as a result of their activities in the context of the contest.
  14. The participant shall refrain from any conduct that would adversely reflect on the BRS Secretariat, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Organization (UN), and shall not engage in any activity which is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the UN, UNEP, and the BRS Secretariat.
  15. Nothing in or relating to the contest shall be deemed a waiver, express or implied, of any of the privileges and immunities of the UN, including UNEP and BRS Secretariat.


Listen to the UN podcast that features the plastic waste partnership photography contest.

Download the digital calendar, featuring the finalist entries of the PWP photography competition!