This blueprint is going to be the roadmap of your school’s journey to breaking free from plastic. Each step will help you create concrete plans to go plastic-free and will get you one step closer to creating sustainable systems within your school!

How does a school become Plastic-Free?

The School Administrator signs the Declaration
You announce that your school is committing to going Plastic-free
We give you access to the Plastic-free Campuses Checklist
You complete each step and submit documentation
Get a badge for each step you finish
Continue to actively be part of the Global Plastic-free Campus Network!

How does a school become Plastic-Free?

The School Administrator signs the Declaration
You announce that your school is committing to become Plastic-free
We give you access to the Plastic-free Campuses Checklist
You complete each step and submit documentation
Give you a badge for each step you finish
Become a part of the Global Plastic-free Campus Program!

Step 1: Form your Eco Committee!

To be able to create a successful and effective Plastic-Free Campus Program, it is important to gather a group of committed and hardworking individuals, which you may refer to as your Eco Committee, who will take the lead in steering the direction of your school’s progress.

These individuals must be key stakeholders in different areas of your school that handle plastic.

Who could be included in your eco committee?

Your University President (Decision-making body)

Key decision-makers for policy in your university. This could be:

▪ Environmental, Procurement, and Sustainability Officers
▪ Waste Management Officer
Finance Officer
Academics Officer

Student Representatives:

▪ Student Organization Leader
 Student Government Leader

And a storyteller/monitor who is in charge of liaising with Break Free From Plastic.


Set regular meetings with your committee to track your progress and iterate as needed.


Step 2: Do a Waste Audit in your school

This audit will help you determine where your plastic is coming from, and what types of plastic your policies will target in banning.

Do a Plastic Audit! You may choose from these existing toolkits:

▪ PLAN’s Plastic Audit Template
▪ PLAN’S Waste Audit Manual
▪ Mother Earth Foundation’s WABA Manual

We also suggest you do a brand audit to identify the top corporate plastic polluters in your school.

Step 3: Assess and set your environmental policies involving the procurement of plastic

What types of plastic were you able to gather in your Plastic Audit?

Select the types of plastic items you gathered and concluded to be present in your school.

After submitting your results, identify the types of plastic items you could start replacing within your school.


Item Alternatives
Single-use plastic utensils
  • Compostable ware
  • Metal spoons, forks, knives
  • Metal chopsticks
  • Reusable bamboo ware
  • Reusable spork knives
Single-use plastic straws* & stirrers
  • Wooden stirrers
  • Paper or reusable straws
Single-use plastic food serviceware (cups, plates, bowls, trays, sauce dishes, lids, etc)

Single-use plastic-lined cups and bowls (coffee cups, soup bowls, snack boats, etc)

  • Reusable serviceware
  • Compostable lids
Single-use plastic film or cling-wraps
  • Compostable film
  • Reusable containers with lids
  • Aluminum foil
  • Wax paper
Single-use plastic clamshells & to-go containers

All polystyrene (Styrofoam™ and similar) food service products

  • Compostable boxes
  • Wax paper
  • Jars, sturdy to-go containers
  • Reusable dishwater made of ceramic or harder plastics
  • Stainless steel options
Single-use plastic bottles (water, soda, juices)
  • Water fountains
  • Fountain beverage machines
  • Pitchers
  • Encouragement of reusable water bottles
Single-use plastic-wrapped condiments, sauces, and seasonings (butter, jelly, peanut butter, creamers, sugars, salt, pepper, etc)
  • Buy in bulk and provide these in reusable containers within refill stations
Individually-packaged items with bulk alternatives (napkins, oyster crackers, individually wrapped fresh baked goods, mints, toothpicks, etc)

Single-use hot beverage packets unnecessarily packaged in plastic (Instant Noodles, K-Cups, plastic-wrapped tea bags, etc)

Pre-packaged plastic-wrapped retail items (chip bags, granola bar wrappers, candy bar wrappers, water/soda bottles, toiletries, etc)***

  • Source snacks and food locally to reduce the need for extensive packaging, cut carbon emissions associated with transportation, and allowing more negotiation for sustainable alternatives with vendors
Plastic shopping bags
  • Cloth bags, purchased or recycled out of old pillowcases or t-shirts
  • Paper bags
  • Cardboard boxes
Plastic trash and recycling bags
Single-use plastics used in academic settings (e.g. lab equipment)*
Single-use plastics necessary for health or safety purposes (e.g. medical plastics)*
*Accessibility should be at the forefront of food-service vendors efforts when working towards restricting single-use disposable plastic. For example, when eliminating single-use plastic straws, dining facilities and vendors should make it clear that they still provide single-use plastic straws upon request (and without question), whenever anyone wants or needs one. Plastic straws are necessary for some individuals with physical disabilities, and should be accessible without question or judgement.

To learn more, check out this Disposable Foodware Report and recommended products from Center for Environmental Health

Compute your investment on reusables vs your expenses on plastic

To analyze the costs and benefits of shifting to using reusable products, use the Rethink Disposable Cost Benefit Calculation

Examples of initiatives to apply in your school

 Cafeteria Culture
 PLAN’s Plastic-free Campus Manual
 PLAN’s Reusable To-go Container Guide
 PLAN’s Creative Reuse on Campus
 PLAN’s Flow Don’t Throw
 PLAN’s Move Out Manual
 PLAN’s Free and Thrift Store Manual

We also recommend rethinking your plastics and waste pipeline and how it extends towards your local community. Waste management should always be sustainable on a local scale. Not all communities are equipped with the facilities required to manage the waste they produce, and most of our waste, even after segregating, still ends up in landfill. To find out more, check out these resources:

 PLAN’s Campus Composting Manual
 PLAN’s Expanded Recycling Manual
 PLAN’s Food Recovery Manual
▪ Plastic Pollution Coalition’s Bank of Myths about Recycling and Bans

Step 4: Make an announcement and get everyone on board with your Plastic-Free Campus journey

Incorporate these announcements in letters or presentations into your: 

▪ Orientations
▪ Staff Meetings
▪ Office Operations

▪ Class Instructions
PTA meetings

Publish your updates on your website, school social media accounts, school paper, or even your local community’s paper.

Check out’s engagement guide

Step 5: Incorporate this into your curriculum

Including plastics education in your curriculum will ensure that students will gain a deeper understanding of the overall problem.

Recommended Outline for a Plastics 101 course

▪ What is Plastic?
▪ Why is plastic problematic?
      ▪ What does plastic contaminate?
Types of Plastic
History of Plastic and its Life Span
Cultural, Social, Environmental, and ▪ Health Implications
Plastics Trail and Globalization
     ▪ What are its implications on developing countries?
False Solutions and Real Solutions

Resources from the US:

Plastic Pollution Coalition‘s Knowledge Bank of Educational Curriculums per Level
5 GYRES’ NextGen Educational Curriculum
NAMEPA’s Marine Plastic Pollution Educational Curriculums

Resources from other Regions:


Wasteless India’s kNOw Plastic


Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung in cooperation with Break Free From Plastic’s Plastic Atlas

Resources for worldwide:

In English UK
In English US
In French
In Spanish 

Best Colleges Resources:

Step 6: Create an awareness campaign plan for your school/university

Create a Campaign Calendar for your school

Examples of Campaign Activities:

Posting Infographics

Gallifrey Foundation’s Plastics Pipeline Infographics
CEH’s Healthier Food Serviceware Infographic
CEH’s Ten Reasons to Wash More Dishes
PLAN’s Hierarchical Ethical Guide to SWAG       (Stuff We All Get)
Break Free From Plastic‘s Infographics Bank
Plastic Pollution Coalition’s Graphics Bank

Hold plastic-free events and activities

PLAN’s Zero Waste Events Guide

Submit your calendar to us and document your progress!

Step 7: Be part of the movement!

Participate in at least two (2) Break Free From Plastic’s Plastic-free Campus skillshares in the next 12 months.

Do a Brand Audit in your school using this toolkit to identify the top corporate polluters and hold them accountable.

Keep updated on Social Media!