#BreakFreeFromPlastic Campus Pledge

A pledge to guide campuses towards the long-term elimination of single-use disposable plastics

(COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY) commits to reducing single-use disposable plastic in the following ways:

1. Establishing a purchasing policy which, by [DATE], eliminates campus and campus food vendor procurement of all non-essential, non-compostable, single-use disposable plastics. This includes restrictions on:

• Single-use plastic utensils
• Single-use plastic straws* & stirrers
• Single-use plastic food serviceware (cups, plates, bowls, trays, sauce dishes, lids, etc)
• Single-use plastic clamshells & to-go containers
• All polystyrene (Styrofoam™ and similar) food service products
• Single-use plastic-lined cups and bowls (coffee cups, soup bowls, snack boats, etc)
• Single-use plastic-wrapped condiments, sauces, and seasonings (butter, jelly, peanut butter, creamers, sugars, salt, pepper, etc)
• Individually-packaged items with bulk alternatives (napkins, oyster crackers, individually wrapped fresh baked goods, mints, toothpicks, etc)
Single-use hot beverage packets unnecessarily packaged in plastic (K-Cups, plastic-wrapped tea bags, etc)
• Plastic shopping bags

Note: The following “solutions” are not acceptable under this pledge:

• Incineration (“waste-to-energy”) as a “recycling” option
• Food-contaminated, “recyclable” single-use plastics (Plastic that has come into contact with food is typically no longer recyclable, regardless of the original plastic material, e.g. plastic clamshells)
• “Biodegradable” plastic options that are not certified compostable**

* Accessibility should be at the forefront of food-service vendors’ efforts when working towards restricting single-use disposable plastic. Implemented policies should restrict disposable products while accommodating all users of the system, including people who have different abilities, dietary restrictions, financial limitations, or other needs. A variety of voices should be included at the decision-making table to consider diverse needs and limitations. In no situation should a “ban” on a plastic item, such as plastic straws, supersede the needs of individuals.

** “All compostable products should be certified as conforming to ASTM or other international standards in order to prevent greenwashing, and to ensure that the products do not create problems for composters or the environment. Meeting the ASTM standards (D6400 or D6868) requires individual ingredients to be tested for biodegradability (consumed by microorganism), and the finished product to disintegrate (physically break down during composting), as well as be tested for plant toxicity and heavy metals. Certification in the U.S. is provided by BPI, The Biodegradable Products Institute.” https://compostingcouncil.org/compostable-products-task-force/2. 

2. Due to the present lack of viable alternatives, and other barriers to removal, the following single-use plastic items are presently excluded from the above restrictions. However,     ___(COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY) commits to keeping an eye towards plastic-free alternatives in future procurement decisions and policies regarding these items:

• Pre-packaged plastic-wrapped retail items (chip bags, granola bar wrappers, candy bar wrappers, water/soda bottles, toiletries, etc)***
• Plastic trash and recycling bags
• Plastic wrap for use during food prep (this does not refer to individually wrapped food items, as noted above)
• Plastic and polystyrene (Styrofoam™) packaging from incoming orders
• Single-use plastics used in academic settings (e.g. lab equipment)
Single-use plastics necessary for health or safety purposes (e.g. medical plastics)

*** Accessibility should be at the forefront of food-service vendors efforts when working towards restricting pre-packaged plastic-wrapped retail items. In locations where fresh, local, and/or unpackaged food or water is unavailable, food security and accessibility are paramount.  While these items are a major source of plastic waste on campus, we recognize that infrastructure shifts will need to occur to ensure that food options are still available and accessible to all before pre-packaged plastic-wrapped retail items are restricted and/or removed.

3. Investment in education, resources, and infrastructure to assist in the Plastic-Free Campus transition. This includes:

• Education on plastics and (COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY’S) commitment to plastic-free alternatives for all incoming and current students, staff, faculty, and, if possible, on-campus contractors and community members.
• Expanding resources and infrastructure for compost collection, institutional reuse, repair and sharing opportunities, and general waste reduction practices. Possible examples include: water bottle refill stations, bulk laundry detergent, bulk and package free snack options, reusable menstrual product options, and reusable to-go container programs.  
• Adjusting procurement guidelines to encourage investment in durable and useful products across campus departments. This also applies to promotional and giveaway items.
Signed by President of (College/University)

Interested in your campus signing the pledge?

Fill out the form below and we will send you a signature-ready version, and we will be in touch to help you set up a plan to Break Free From Plastic on your campus.

#BreakFreeFromPlastic Campus Pledge

  • (student, faculty, staff, alumni, etc – please share your position if relevant!)