Marine litter

The University of Plymouth is recognised globally as a world-leading centre for research into the causes and impacts of marine litter.

Now it has agreed a plan to build on that expertise by reducing the amount of plastic waste generated on its campuses, and the use of single-use plastics in general.

The Plan for Plastics includes a range of actions the University will implement across its catering, leisure and waste management activities.

It also aims to expand the work conducted by its International Marine Litter Research Unit, helping staff, students and society as a whole to tackle the global challenge of moving towards a plastic free society.

The plan is being launched on World Oceans Day, as the University becomes a part of three major initiatives designed to minimise the generation and impact of marine litter.

They include the WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) UK Plastics Pact and Plymouth City Council’s Plan for Plastics, with the University also part of a successful bid which has seen Plymouth become the first UK city district awarded Plastic Free Waterfront status by Surfers Against Sewage.

Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Plymouth, said:

“We pride ourselves on being a leader in sustainable practices and education. And we are recognised as one of the world’s foremost institutions originally identifying, and continuing to examine, the causes and impacts of marine litter and microplastics in our environment. As such we feel it is an important step to be working with our staff, students and partners in Britain’s Ocean City to take a proactive stand on this important issue.”

Already this year, the University has launched a Ditch the Disposables campaign with discounts available for those who bring their own cups to its cafes. Plastic straws have also been removed from cafes and the Students Union, and more drinking fountains and water machines are in place across campus.

There is also a target to recycle 70 per cent of all waste (and all plastics), to ensure food is being served on either reusable or recyclable products, and to work with suppliers to remove all single use plastics from shops and cafes.

The University is also looking to continue delivering world leading research, in particular using its expertise in encouraging behavioural change to educate students, staff, partners and industry.

Professor Richard Thompson OBE, Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit, said:

“Plymouth is known all over the world for its research into marine litter, so it is very pleasing to see the University taking such a proactive stance on its own campus. One of the messages we always try to get across is that while this is a global problem, every individual and organisation can change their behaviour and make a difference. The goals set out in this plan, and the work we are doing with partners all over the world, will help the University continue to turn the tide on plastic use for years to come.”

Leading the charge against plastic pollution

The University is at the forefront of international research into the causes and impacts of marine litter and is now taking action to reduce the plastic waste generated on its campuses.
Marine litter, microplastics on the beach.

International Marine Litter Research Unit

Marine litter is a global environmental problem with items of debris now contaminating habitats from the poles to the equator, from the sea surface to the deep sea. 
Furthering our understanding of litter on the environment and defining solutions.
Marine litter