On May 8, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Product Stewardship Institute, and the University of California announced the launch of a new Marine Debris Campus Toolkit. The toolkit is a detailed how-to guide for reducing plastic waste at college campuses and other institutions to help reduce marine debris and coastal pollution. The toolkit, funded by an EPA grant, resulted from a successful 2-year pilot project by the Product Stewardship Institute at three coastal University of California (UC) campuses: UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, and UC San Francisco.

The toolkit includes a footprint calculator to determine a campus’ plastic footprint, a source-reduction plan to eliminate the use of disposable plastic items, changes to campus purchasing practices by switching to greener, lower waste products, and establishing campus-wide plastic waste reduction policies.

During the 2-year pilot project, all three UC campuses dramatically reduced their plastics use. UC Santa Barbara saw a 97% 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 more than 60,000 single-use plastic water bottles.

UC San Diego cut more than 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 more than 50 water fountains with gooseneck spouts to fill reusable water bottles more easily, cutting campus purchasing of single-use plastic water bottles by 50%, saving $27,500 each year. Read more.