University of Exeter set to become ‘Plastic Free’ by 2020

University of Exeter set to become ‘Plastic Free’ by 2020

The University of Exeter has announced the latest phase of a sustainability drive designed to help its campuses become ‘plastic free’.

The University has announced plans to become a ‘Flagship Employer’ of the Plastic Free Exeter campaign, the brainchild of the environmental pressure group Surfers Against Sewage.

As part of the new initiative, the University has vowed to end the practice of offering a range of single-use, disposable plastic items across its campuses in Exeter.

The scheme will see plastic drinks stirrers and straws phased out by September 2018, and replaced with recyclable, biodegradable alternatives in the University’s outlets, hospitality and shops.

Plastic cups will also be removed in the coming months. The University has already been promoting reusable cups on its campuses, which has already reduced the use of paper cups by more than 50,000.

The initiative follows heightened public awareness following the BBC’s flagship Blue Planet TV series, which brought into focus the amount of disposable plastic currently in the oceans. 

A University of Exeter team led by Professor Tamara Galloway also recently won the Research Impact category in the Guardian University Awards for their research revealing the devastating impact that microplastic pollution could have on the health of humans and wildlife.

Robyn Manley, Postdoctoral Researcher in Molecular Evolution at the University, and member of Plastic Free Exeter, said: “It’s great that the University is at the forefront of the campaign to reduce plastic waste. As a world-leader in the field of micro-plastic pollution, it is essential that we lead the way as a flagship employer for the Plastic Free campaign."

“Students and staff at the University are passionate about sustainability, ecology and conservation, and this is another step forward to show how we can all make a difference to one of the biggest problems facing the world today.”

In addition to reducing plastic waste, the University’s retail and catering teams have also phased out automatic receipts for customers who chose to pay by card; student volunteers have been distributing excess campus food to the city’s homeless community; and a successful ‘moving on’ campaign has seen many unwanted items donated to the British Heart Foundation by students leaving their halls of residence.

Date: 8 May 2018

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