The National Wildlife Federation

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New Resources Support Campus Efforts to Reduce Plastic Pollution for Wildlife

WASHINGTON, D.C. — To reduce the impact of plastic pollution on wildlife, the National Wildlife Federation is providing Stemming the Tide: Taking Action on Campus Against Plastic Pollution, a comprehensive guide with resources for students, faculty and staff to begin planning plastic reduction efforts on campus for the spring semester.

Stemming the Tide will be a great resource for colleges and universities to employ when reviving their plastic reduction efforts and launching new ones, once they are back on campus,” said Kristy Jones, senior manager of the National Wildlife Federation’s Higher Education Program and co-author of the guide. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increase in waste, especially single-use plastic materials going to the landfill. This means it will be more important than ever to reduce the purchase and use of plastics, as soon as health and safety measures allow it.”

Plastic use has been on the rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing a reversal in the global battle to reduce single-use plastics. The guide will help campuses tie their plastic waste reduction efforts to the natural environment.

Stemming the Tide: Taking Action on Campus Against Plastic Pollution includes:

  • Reporting on how single-use plastic pollution is putting the health of people and wildlife at risk.
  • Guidance on how to explore and implement campus-wide solutions, including examples of current sustainable initiatives and programs, such as Fill It Forward and Campus Race to Zero Waste (formerly known as RecycleMania), leveraged by universities across the country. 
  • Recommendations on how to develop an action plan to ensure that campus communities are engaged and aware of their impact on wildlife.

Plastic pollution in our oceans and rivers continues to be a major environmental threat. According to a 2019 report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, one third of marine mammals as well as one third of reef-forming coral species are at risk due to pollution.

Since 1989, the National Wildlife Federation has worked closely with students, faculty and staff to advance sustainability on campuses across the country. With the organization’s support, colleges and universities are actively working to reduce their waste streams and help solve this crisis. During this year’s RecycleMania 2020 competition, nearly 300 U.S. and Canadian campuses recycled, donated, and composted 48.6 million pounds of waste and cut out more than 380 million plastic bottles from the waste stream. Registration for the 2021 competition will open in September under the program’s new name, Campus Race to Zero Waste; a name that better reflects and reinforces the purpose of the program – to help campuses find pathways toward zero waste.

Rubicon, a technology company born from the waste and recycling industry and committed to environmental innovation, is the sponsor of Stemming the Tide.

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