Plastic Pollution

Plastics Reduction Partner: Certify Your Campus

The National Wildlife Federation and the Campus Race to Zero Waste Program are excited to announce a new certification program for colleges and universities taking action to reduce the purchase and use of plastics on campus.

Learn More

There are three levels of certification:

  • Bronze (18-48 points): Introductory badge - your college or university is newer to the plastics reduction space, and trying to get the word out about the need for change.
  • Silver (49-74 points): Intermediate badge - your college or university is reducing plastics in practice, and your impact is visible campus-wide.
  • Green (75-100 points): Advanced level badge - your college or university is institutionally committed, and demonstrating leadership in the plastics reduction space as a true change agent.

All campuses will be required to submit a signed letter of commitment prior to applying for certification. 




Plastics Reduction Partner program is eligible for AASHE STARS innovation credits. 


National Wildlife Federation is a proud member of the #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement. 


Become a Plastics Reduction Partner

Tackling Plastic Pollution on Campus

Stemming the Tide: Taking Action on Campus Against Plastic Pollution

Download the Stemming the Tide

New Guide Features:

> 36 colleges and universities

> Overview of plastic pollution problem including impacts on humans and wildlife

> Easy ways for individuals to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic

> Campus-wide solutions to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic 

> Education and awareness campus strategies

> The plastic recycling process

Before you dive into the guide:

> Test your knowledge of how plastic pollution impacts our marine environments. 

> Test your knowledge of the materials you purchase and use each day. 


Plastic Pollution Impacts on the Environment

Management and disposal of solid waste material, especially plastics, has become one of the most challenging environmental problems of our time. And it is also basically solvable. The entire world has shifted, in the past 30 years, to single-use plastics as a way of eating, drinking,  washing and packaging merchandise that goes straight into the waste stream, on to landfills and ultimately into the natural environment – with the accumulated waste lasting for decades and posing a hazard to living creatures including humans. It is clearly a problem for people and for nature and wildlife that is expanding globally including in the U.S.

Plastics of different sizes are being ingested by billions of creatures -- and are killing and/or harming endangered species at sea and on land; it is estimated that ingestion of plastic kills 1 million marine birds and 100,000 marine animals each year. Adults and children are taking in plastics every week through the food they eat and the water they drink with unknown long-term consequences, according to a recent analysis by the World Wildlife Fund.


Join the Wave! Get Involved in the International Coastal Cleanup this September

The International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) began more than 30 years ago, when communities rallied together with the common goal of collecting and documenting the trash littering their coastline

Learn more about ICC and how you can get involved this September. Continue to check the ICC website to learn how to safely participate in the cleanup this year. 

Campus Race to Zero Waste is proud to be a partner of the International Coastal Clean-up, in partnership with The Ocean Conservancy. Fighting to keep trash out of our natural environment - volunteers cleanup trash, recycle what can be recycled, and discard the rest responsibly in the landfill.

Cleanups can take place on shorelines, rivers, lakes, and inland and can be on foot, on watercraft and even underwater with scuba divers! The clean-up is a great opportunity to get outdoors and encourage freshmen and other students to take environmental action early in the fall semester!

Meet Clean Swell - Use the Clean Swell app to easily record the items of trash you pick up during your cleanup!

NWF Resources on Plastic Pollution:

More about Plastic Pollution:

  • Freshwater areas are being permeated with plastics and waste, and drinking supplies are being dangerously degraded with poor filtering options. Landfills are designed to contain their materials and keep them from the surrounding environment; however, landfills still end up leaking a variety of pollutants. Leachate, liquid that forms as materials break down in a landfill, often leaks through the liners of the landfill and can pollute groundwater.
  • According to a 2017 UN Environmental Report, scientists fear that chemicals in plastics and also chemicals which attach themselves to plastic in the natural environment could cause poisoning, infertility and genetic disruption in marine life, and potentially in humans if ingested in high quantities.
  • Plastics manufacturing is a fossil fuel based enterprise with a large energy footprint that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. According to a report by the Center for International Environmental Law, the plastics industry plays a major — and growing — role in climate change, by 2050, making and disposing of plastics could be responsible for a cumulative 56 gigatons of carbon, the report found, up to 14 percent of the world's remaining carbon budget.