A successful two-year pilot project by the Product Stewardship Institute, with input from Plastic Pollution Coalition and various other nonprofits, has resulted in the release of a new Marine Debris Campus Toolkit, designed to help college campuses and other institutions cut their plastic waste to help reduce marine debris and coastal pollution.
Funded by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, the toolkit is a detailed guide for reducing plastic waste on college campuses and other institutions, including: a footprint calculator to determine a campus’ plastic footprint; source reduction plan to eliminate the use of disposable plastic items; guide to changing campus purchasing practices by switching to greener, lower-waste products; and establishing campus-wide plastic waste reduction policies.
The pilot project was conducted at three coastal University of California campuses—UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, and UC San Francisco.
“The toolkit enabled three of our campuses to identify sources of plastic waste, research solutions, and make concrete change,” said Matt St. Clair, Director of Sustainability for the UC Office of the President. “We, in fact, saw significant reductions in disposable plastics throughout all three campuses, and hope this toolkit will inspire change across the UC system.”
During the 2-year pilot project, all three UC campuses dramatically reduced their plastics use. UC Santa Barbara saw a 97 percent decline in plastic bag use by campus food services through an agreement with their local Subway store to eliminate unnecessary packaging. By promoting campus hydration stations, the campus also eliminated over 60,000 single-use plastic water bottles. UC San Diego cut over 1 million plastic bags each year by working with their campus Subway store to eliminate plastic bags and straw sleeves. UC San Francisco’s Parnassus and Mission Bay campuses retrofitted over 50 water fountains with gooseneck spouts to fill reusable water bottles more easily, cutting campus purchasing of single-use plastic water bottles by 50 percent, saving $27,500 each year.