Marine litter, microplastics on the beach.

“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.”

Professor Judith Petts, CBE

Professor Judith Petts, VC

Marine litter is a global environmental crisis. And as awareness of the threats it poses increase, there is a growing call for both scientific research and collective action.

Through its International Marine Little Research Unit, the University has been at the forefront of advancing knowledge in this field for almost two decades. Its work includes studying the causes and impacts of plastics and other debris within the marine environment. But it also seeks to spread awareness of the need for behavioural change, and the means through which it can be brought about.

The University is also taking important steps to reduce its own impact on the environment through a new Plan for Plastics. In line with a number of regional and national initiatives – including Plymouth City Council’s Plan for Plastics and the WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) UK Plastics Pact – it aims to:

  • minimise consumption of single-use plastics
  • recycle all plastic waste and ensure correct management of waste
  • support the economy and our supply chain to move towards the removal of single-use plastics and implementation of alternatives
  • deliver world leading research to provide robust evidence about the environmental problems associated with plastic, thereby helping society tackle the global challenge of moving towards a plastic free society
  • raise awareness within the University as well as externally about the issues associated with single-use plastics and waste generation and promote behaviour change.

Read more about the University's commitment to reduction of single use plastics

Sustainability with the University of Plymouth

Plymouth is making a powerful, positive difference to individual and collective futures, and striving for excellence in financial, environmental and social responsibility across all our activities.
Our sustainability ambitions stretch across campus operations, teaching and research in a unique institutional approach.
healthy and sustainable food is becoming a key vehicle for positive change in Plymouth.

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

Use your reusable cup at our campus cafes 

Our goal is to reduce the number of disposables cups used and then disposed of on campus. It’s estimated that 2.5 billion paper coffee cups are being thrown away in the UK every year. That’s almost 5,000 a minute, or 7 million per day! One reusable cup will on average have completely paid for itself after around 50 uses. 

Cut waste, cut carbon, save money when you use a reusable cup at our campus cafes and get a 20p discount.
Ditch the disposables coffee cup graphic for feature panel