UPD campaign yields 43% reduction of plastic use

The Pilot Project for Plastic-Free Vending in UP Diliman (Plastic-Free Vending in UPD) that encouraged the removal or replacement of plastic containers among food vendors in UPD resulted in “considerable reductions in the use and disposal of single-use plastics among [UPD] customers, with an overall reduction of 43%.”

Compostable cups being used in a food kiosk. Screenshot of YouTube Video Pilot Project for Plastic-Free Vending in UPD

The result was part of the report Breaking the Plastic Habit: A Guidance Note and Practical Toolkit (Report) published by the Regional Knowledge Centre for Marine Plastic Debris of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN (ERIA) and East Asia and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES).

According to the Report, “the project was designed to conduct a three-week trial run [May-June 2023] of plastic-free policies in selected food stores and ambulatory vendors and food kiosks on the campus.”

The Report stated that Plastic-Free Vending in UPD has four pillars of intervention. These are the “development of a comprehensive communication strategy,” “sustaining the prohibition of selling drinks in plastic bottles and offering discounts to customers who choose to bring their own reusable food containers,” providing “compostable alternatives to plastic food packaging,” and the “implementation of a proper waste segregation system in partner sites.”

Information campaign materials on display in a canteen. Screenshot of YouTube Video Pilot Project for Plastic-Free Vending in UP Diliman (UP TFES)

Aside from “a significant decrease in the amount of plastic waste produced by the participating vendors,” the Report also stated that there was an increase in the amount of compostable waste collected by the Diliman Environmental Management Office (DEMO) materials recovery facility.

In addition, the Report mentioned these results “will have positive knock-on effects on the campus food production system.”

The leader of the project Plastic-Free Vending in UPD was Noriza T. Sadie, an assistant professor of environmental and energy engineering at the UPD Institute of Civil Engineering (ICE). It was conducted by the UPD Task Force on Environmental Sustainability (TFES) in partnership with ICE and DEMO. The project was supported by a grant from the ERIA and IGES.

The results of Plastic-Free Vending in UPD published in the Report, together with the results of three similar pilot projects in Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam were used to produce the toolkit Breaking the Plastic Habit: Toolkit for Designing Behavioural Insight Interventions (Toolkit).

Vendor serving food on a compostable plate. Screenshot of YouTube Video Pilot Project for Plastic-Free Vending in UPD

The Toolkit can be used by administrators or leaders aiming to move people away from using single-use plastics in a group or community “through behavioral interventions, emphasizing the importance of engagement, flexibility, and ongoing evaluation in the process,” stated in the Report.

According to the Report, the easy-to-use Toolkit “presents a series of steps to designing interventions applying levers of behavior change. The steps include concrete examples drawn from lessons learnt in pilot implementations in the Asia-Pacific region. Each step includes a number of potential priority actions.”

For the video of the Plastic-Free Vending in UPD, click here.