University of Leeds plans to stop using plastics by 2023

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Plastic bottles littered on a groundImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
About 300 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated every year, according to UN Environment

A university has pledged to stop using single-use plastics by 2023.

The University of Leeds said it would "phase out the amount of plastic products and packaging" entering its whole site including its student union within five years.

It has vowed to use biodegradable and reusable alternatives to plastic cups, equipment and apparatus.

Friends of the Earth welcomed the move and congratulated the university for its campaign.

The university said it had already reduced the use of disposable cups by more than 100,000.

Instead its food and catering outlets were selling reusable cups, while its student union bar had replaced single-use plastic cups and glasses "with vegware or paper, all recyclable and compostable".

Launching its Single Out: 2023PlasticFree campaign, the university said it was also researching methods to "produce the next generation of biodegradable bioplastics - plastics derived from renewable biomass that will break down quickly and safely once disposed".

Image source, University of Leeds
Image caption,
The university said it had already replaced single-use plastic cups and glasses with reusable and recyclable ones

University Chancellor Professor Dame Jane Francis, who is also director of the British Antarctic Survey, said: "The shift in public opinion about use of plastics has been phenomenal, but organisations of all shapes and sizes need to champion change.

"I think this commitment will inspire lots of people to think about how the university, as an institution that leads the way on sustainability, can make a difference."

Friends of the Earth plastic campaigner Julian Kirby said: "It's fantastic to see one of our top universities showing leadership on single-use plastic."

According to UN Environment, an estimated 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s, with 60% of it ending up in landfills or the natural environment.