Discarded plastic bottle

Portsmouth has been awarded the status in recognition of its work to reduce the impact on the environment of single-use plastic.

17 March 2021

3 min read

The University of Portsmouth’s work to combat plastic pollution has helped the city achieve ‘Plastic Free Community’ status.

Portsmouth has been awarded the status by marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), in recognition of its work to reduce the impact on the environment of single-use plastic.

The University launched Revolution Plastics last year, an initiative to assemble scientists, businesses, campaigners and citizens, to find solutions to the global plastic crisis. Its mission is to transform the way we make, use and dispose of plastic.

Nick Leach, Head of Catering Services, said: “We have made strides to reduce plastic usage on campus by replacing single-use plastics with natural wheat straws, bamboo cutlery and cornstarch cups, and all milk supplied to the university is now in glass bottles.  

“With a student and staff population of over 35,000, we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to commit to sustainable sourcing, minimise food waste and reduce our use of plastics.”

The Treadgold Fish Sculpture for collecting plastic bottles was created by local artist Pete Codling.

Reducing single-use plastics on campus is just one part of Revolution Plastics, which includes University research on engineering plastic-dissolving enzymes, making fashion more sustainable and studying how microplastics affect our oceans, economy and the air we breathe. 

The city’s campaign to reduce single-use plastic was started in 2018 by local environmentalist, Clare Seek. She said: “It’s been great to see growth in the city’s passion for reducing single-use plastic over the past couple of years. There has been a real breadth of effort from collecting litter and preventing it getting into our sea, through to education, changing habits and research into future solutions and stemming the flow at source.”

The SAS Plastic Free Community network aims to unite communities to tackle avoidable plastic - from the beach all the way back to the brands and businesses who create it.

Rachel Yates, SAS Plastic Free Communities Project Manager, said: “It’s great to see the work that Portsmouth has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse. 

“We have over 600 communities across the UK working to reduce single use plastic and the impact it has on our environment. Every step those communities and the individuals in them take is a step towards tackling the problem at source, challenging our throwaway culture and encouraging the habit and system changes we need to see.”