U.S. EPA, PSI, and University of California Launch Toolkit to Reduce Marine Debris
Friday, May 8, 2015
Posted by: Suzy Whalen
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Product Stewardship Institute, and the University of California announced the launch of a new Marine Debris Campus Toolkit designed to help college campuses and other institutions cut their plastic waste to help reduce marine debris and coastal pollution. The toolkit, funded by an EPA grant, resulted from a successful two-year pilot project by the Product Stewardship Institute at three coastal University of California campuses: UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, and UC San Francisco.
“Preventing plastics and other types of trash from becoming marine debris is so important,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This cool toolkit shows us how to take action in the fight to create trash free streams, lakes and oceans.”
During the two-year pilot project, all three UC campuses dramatically reduced their plastics use. UC Santa Barbara saw a 97 percent 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 over 60,000 single-use plastic water bottles. UC San Diego cut over 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 over 50 water fountains with gooseneck spouts to fill reusable water bottles more easily, cutting campus purchasing of single-use plastic water bottles by 50 percent, saving $27,500 each year.
The Campus Toolkit is a detailed “how to” guide for reducing plastic waste on college campuses and other institutions, including: a Footprint Calculator to determine a campus’ plastic footprint; source reduction plan to eliminate the use of disposable plastic items; changing campus purchasing practices by switching to greener, lower waste products; and establishing campus-wide plastic waste reduction policies.
“The toolkit enabled three of our campuses to identify sources of plastic waste, research solutions, and make concrete change,” said Matt St. Clair, Director of Sustainability for the UC Office of the President. “We, in fact, saw significant reductions in disposable plastics throughout all three campuses, and hope this toolkit will inspire change across the UC system.”
“Packaging makes up a large portion of marine debris and contributes to the huge gyres of trash that exist in our oceans, harming both marine life and human health,” said Scott Cassel, Chief Executive Officer at the Product Stewardship Institute. “The adoption of this toolkit by other universities could have a major impact on reducing marine debris in coastal watersheds, which would convey immense promise in the movement to rid our waterways of excess plastic.”
Download the Campus Toolkit on EPA’s website at: www.epa.gov/region9/marine-debris/
More information about the Product Stewardship Institute and the pilot project is available at: http://www.productstewardship.us/
A Campus Toolkit fact sheet is available at: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/productstewardship.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/PSI_Reports/2015.04.20.Toolkit-One-Pager.pdf
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About the U.S. EPA
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest Region 9 administers and enforces federal environmental laws in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands and 148 tribal nations -- home to more than 48 million people. Over the past four decades, EPA Region 9 has spent billions of dollars and millions of staff hours to maintain and safeguard the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we treasure. While great progress has been made to reduce smog, improve water quality, clean up hazardous waste and create sustainable, healthy communities, much work remains to achieve EPA’s goals of protecting our environment and ensuring public health. Follow us on Facebook: EPAregion9, Twitter: @EPAregion9, Newsletter: www.epa.gov/region9/newsletter
About the Product Stewardship Institute
The Product Stewardship Institute is a national, membership-based nonprofit committed to reducing the health, safety, and environmental impacts of consumer products across their lifecycle with a strong focus on sustainable end-of-life management. Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, we take a unique product stewardship approach to solving waste management problems by mediating stakeholder dialogues and encouraging producer responsibility. With a membership base comprised of 47 state governments and hundreds of local government agencies, as well as partnerships with more than 95 companies, organizations, academic institutions and non-U.S. governments, we work to design, implement, evaluate, strengthen, and promote both legislative and voluntary product stewardship initiatives across North America. Follow us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or online Product Stewardship Institute