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Plastic pledge

Plastic pledge

In 2018 the University of Leeds and Leeds University Union made a collaborative pledge to remove single-use plastic across all of its operations by 2023, #2023PlasticFree. 

The hugely ambitious target was one of the first and boldest pledges of any Higher Education organisation, showing our leadership in researching, testing and implementing solutions to address global problems.  

Covid-19 and the plastic pledge 

Achieving our ambitions

We remain committed to removing unnecessary single use plastics. This will require collaboration from all areas of the University, across 3 key areas: 

  • Operational changes that include mapping single-use plastic, building the knowledge and capacity of staff, and changing operational processes in support of the pledge. 
  • Research on single-use plastic across academics and the student curriculum to find innovative alternatives, develop infrastructure and promote behaviour change. 
  • Collaborative networks of activity have been developed between staff and students as well as with external stakeholders, supply chain and sector partners in order to share learning and overcome the challenges together. 


Find out more about how you can help us to achieve this goal or get in touch.  

Latest work

Need some inspiration to get involved? Take a read of the amazing work that is already taking place and start planning how you can make a positive change as well. 



Ashley talks sustainable labs and single use plastics

Last year I began my role as a Student Sustainability Architect, where I was tasked with exploring the use of single-use plastics (SUPs) in laboratories...

Choose to reuse - alternatives to single use plastic

Perhaps you carry a refillable water bottle in your bag, pack your shopping into reusable bags at the supermarket, or nab a discount for using...

The Big Plastic Count on Campus - what happens next?

In May 2022 the Big Plastic Count came to the University of Leeds, and we asked students and staff to report the single-use plastic that...

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United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

We use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to guide our activity. Our plastic pledge is linked to the following SDGs:

  • Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production
  • Goal 14: Life below water
  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

Find out more about our impact on the SDGs.

United Nation Sustainable Development Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructureUnited Nation Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible consumption and productionUnited Nation Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life below waterUnited Nation Sustainable Development Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals