Public Awareness

Public awareness campaigns that engage and educate local communities on plastic waste can spur community action and affect consumer choices. 

TARGET USERS: Individuals, Businesses, Industry, Government

KEY CONSIDERATIONS: The aim is to increase public understanding and shape community perceptions on the dangers of plastic pollution and available solutions, thereby empowering more people and organizations to take action.



Everyday, plastic waste negatively impacts the ecosystem, habitats, human health and sustainable development across the world. Despite the vast scale of the problem, the general public and other important stakeholders have not been adequately engaged and educated on how they can become part of the solution.


Broad public awareness can help to change the way that plastic is viewed, used and managed as waste. Education and engagement can be part of a city’s strategic action plan, and can include consumer awareness campaigns, business awareness campaigns, documentary films, school initiatives and cleanup activities, among others.

The aim is to increase public understanding and shape community perceptions on the dangers of plastic pollution and available solutions, thereby empowering more people and organizations to take action. Community actions can include changes in individual attitudes and purchasing habits, increased sorting and recycling behavior, responsible business processes and practices, among others.


Con Dao Public Awareness Project

Marine Litter Clean-up Events in Split, Croatia
In spring 2020, the Sunce Split Association launched a series of marine litter clean-up events in collaboration with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy.
The aim was to remove marine litter from the seabed and coast, while at the same time, raise public awareness of the impact of marine litter on the Adriatic. 21 clean-up actions were carried out in seven counties along the Croatian coastline: Istria, Primorje-Gorski Kotar, Lika-Senj, Zadar, Šibenik-Knin, Split-Dalmatia, and Dubrovnik-Neretva. 5 tonnes of underwater marine litter were removed by divers, then collected by fishermen with trawl nets. Volunteers and Sunce Split staff also took part, monitoring litter collected to track its source and advising on appropriate waste management. Locations were selected in cooperation with relevant stakeholders, such as public institutions that manage Marine Protected Areas, local authorities, citizens associations, diving clubs and fishing communities. The results of each event were made public to raise public awareness of marine litter pollution. In addition, based on the experience and results, Sunce Split Association drafted a proposal for a national protocol setting guidelines for all future ocean clean-up initiatives in Croatia.

Source: Seas at

School Activities in Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Brussels Zero Waste Challenge
Brussels has engaged in a Zero Waste Strategy to educate its citizens of how they can reduce waste and prevent plastic pollution. Public awareness activities that form part of the Zero Waste Challenge include:

  • A monthly zero waste newsletter
  • A Facebook page and an agenda for the promotion of zero waste events
  • An online resource showcasing best practice projects
  • The organisation of municipal Zero Waste Challenges involving hundreds of participating families
  • Personalised coaching and support to help families reduce their waste
  • Participants receive a specific challenge, several of which target alternatives to single-use packaging and products, e.g. the bulk sales challenge and the zero waste picnic challenge.

Participants in the city’s first Zero Waste Challenge in 2019 reduced their waste by 30% in one year, from an initial 61 kg per year to 43 kg per year, which is 75% less
waste than the average Brussels citizen. 

Source: Seas at Risk. org

#NoPlasticChallenge, France
Each spring, 200 volunteers from the French NGO “No Plastic In My Sea” invite the public to mobilise on social media and commit to reducing their plastic consumption, using the hashtag #NoPlasticChallenge. As part of the event, 15 daily actions are promoted, all related to reducing or eliminating the use of single-use plastic items, (no disposable cups, no plastic cutlery, no over-packaged goods or single-serve portions, homemade detergents, buy unpackaged, in bulk fruit and vegetables, solid shampoo and use of refillable bottle and reusable bags).  A self-evaluation form lets participants measure and compare their plastic consumption at the beginning and at the end of the challenge. Thanks to the use of social media, with people posting eco-tips and inviting others to do so, the event is highly visible, reaching around five million people. Visit No Plastic in My Sea to learn more. 

Waste prevention education, Greece
The Ecological Recycling Society launched an innovative “Prevention for Students” project in collaboration with the municipalities of Agioi Anargyroi-Kamatero, Zakynthos, Hersonissos, Kozani and the Regional Union of Attica Municipalities. The goal was to improve information and raise public awareness on waste prevention, which is one of the general objectives of the National Strategic Waste Prevention Plan. The main deliverables of the project included a waste prevention guidebook for students and teachers, a PowerPoint presentation for schools, a poster, and a TV ad. Prevention workshops were also organised. As well as informing school communities about waste prevention (with a focus on single-use plastics) and wasteful consumption, the project also encouraged students to take part in waste prevention actions and alternative waste management actions. Source: Seas at

Parley Ocean School
Parley Ocean School takes an immersive approach to environmental education with the goal of inspiring marine conservation and empowering its next generation of leaders: Ocean Guardians. Parley Ocean School youth programs simplify complex marine threats through engaging materials developed with a global network of educators. Our lessons balance local and global issues, connect big-picture thinking with immediate impacts, and instill in each individual a sense of place and agency within the movement to end today’s biggest marine threats. Initiatives are led in collaboration with local schools, NGOs and governments. Our programs are tailored to support existing curriculum and introduce new and exciting experiences in the marine environment, as well as through the power of sports.

Since piloting  in the Maldives in 2015, the Parley Ocean School program has expanded around the world in collaboration with educators, NGOs, brands and governments, focusing especially on coastal communities most affected by marine plastic pollution.

“Parley AIR” (Avoid, Intercept, Redesign) lessons, workshops and plastic interception points are active in over 70 schools, with the ambition to roll out these initiatives across all 217 schools in the Maldives by 2020. A forthcoming digital platform will make lessons, activities and tools available to students, activists and educators worldwide.

See for more information.

Plastic Clever Schools
With over 951 registered schools across the UK, the Plastic Clever Schools Program is is committed to helping schools succeed in their efforts to fight single-use plastic. Becoming a Plastic Clever School requires a school to take appropriate action needed to reduce their use of single-use plastic, including the BIG 4 plastic polluters (cups + lids, straws, bottles and bags), plus cutlery and crockery. See Plastic Clever School’s website for more information.

Plastic Disclosure Project
The Plastic Disclosure Project enables manufacturers, businesses and municipalities to manage and reduce their plastic waste by measuring, understanding, and communicating their plastic footprint. See for more information.  

The Story of Plastic
The Story of Plastic is presented by The Story of Stuff Project, a nonprofit dedicated to changing the way that we make, use, and throw away Stuff so that it is more sustainable, healthy, and fair. Since 2007 the nonprofit’s nine award-winning animated movies have garnered more than 50 million online views around the world and inspired a million-member global community to take action for systemic change. To learn more, visit their

The #breakfreefromplastic Movement is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in 2016, more than 11,000 organizations and individual supporters from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and to push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. BFFP member organizations and individuals share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, and work together through a holistic approach in order to bring about systemic change under the #breakfreefromplastic core pillars. This means tackling plastic pollution across the whole plastics value chain – from extraction to disposal – focusing on prevention rather than cure and providing effective solutions. See to learn more. 

My Little Plastic Footprint
My Little Plastic Footprint is an app that helps individuals reduce their plastic consumption by going on a “plastic diet”. To calculate one’s plastic footprint, the app uses the Plastic Mass Index (PMI). The PMI is a measure to calculate one’s contribution to plastic pollution; the closer your PMI number gets to zero, the less pollution you contribute; the closer your PMI gets to 100, the more you contribute. By going on a plastic diet, you will reduce your PMI and thereby reduce your contribution to plastic pollution. See for more information. 

Vietnam – MONRE
Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) cooperated with various community stakeholders to organize workshops that raise public awareness of the adverse impacts of the use of plastic bags in the community. MONRE implemented a number of communication solutions on the harmful effects of plastic waste, such as the emulation movement themed “Take action to reduce plastic and nylon pollution”, calling on all officials and employees of the environmental sector, as well as their families and relatives, to “say no to single-use plastics and nylon bags”.

The ministry also coordinated with many localities from across the country to organize campaigns collecting and recycling plastic waste and nylon bags from markets, supermarkets, trade centers and residential areas, aiming to encourage consumers to minimize the use of single-use plastic products and non-degradable nylon bags, and give up the habit of littering indiscriminately.

Most recently, the MONRE collaborated with the Hanoi People’s Committee and the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee to launch the national movement, “Combating plastic waste 2019”, which was enthusiastically acted upon through the central to local levels with practical actions and deeds.

Plastic Free July 
Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution. Plastic Free July participants reduce their household waste and recycling by 21 kilos per person per year and  contribute to a total savings of 940 million kilos of plastic waste each year. With over 326 million participants worldwide in 2020, the movement has taken 900 Million kilos of plastic out of nature, including millions of single-use drink bottles, coffee cups, packaging, straws and plastic bags. See for more information. 


Community-based Waste Management

Community-based waste management programs are collaborations between NGO’s, government agencies and impacted communities, to provide the equipment, resources and training necessary to establish an effective waste management program, and to run the program independently. 

Youth-led Initiatives

Youth-led organizations prove effective in raising awareness of the dangers of plastics to our environment by offering local community engagement workshops, organizing beach clean-ups, promoting plastic-free products, lobbying with local and national governments, and speaking at public events and in schools. 

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