Pupils who bring in plastic water bottles to school could be punished in the same way as if they were caught smoking cigarettes.
Brighton College, a private school in East Sussex, will ban anyone from taking plastic water bottles, plastic straws or non-biodegradable cups onto the premises – including teachers.
Richard Cairns, headmaster at Brighton College, has said that pupils caught flouting the ban of single-use plastics on the school site could face punishments – including supervised beach-cleaning.
The move comes amid widespread concern over the dangers posed to the environment by plastic.
The headmaster of Brighton College will formally announce the ban – believed to be the first of its kind – at a conference at the school tomorrow. It is expected to come into effect in the autumn.
Mr Cairns will say: “We will treat plastic bottles, straws and non-biodegradable cups as anti-social, in the same way that for decades we have banned cigarettes.
“Initially, we will enforce the changes with a system of formal warnings for pupils breaking the rules but there is also the appetite, if it proves necessary, to use sanctions – in large part, because the potential for sanctions highlights the significance of the issue.”
Sixth formers began campaigning for the use of less plastic after watching BBC’s Blue Planet II series.
“Many pupils were really shaken by the terrible images on David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II of marine animals being strangled by plastic,” Mr Cairns said.
The private school will install extra water fountains – and it will commission refillable bottles etched with environmental messages – to ensure students can stay hydrated.
The new environmental measures may eventually include banning parents and teachers who drive diesel cars from driving onto the school site.
Mr Cairns said: “I have asked the school’s science department to establish a research group of sixth formers, all able scientists, to research the evidence and advise me of possible ways forward.
“Educationally, this makes great sense for those individuals. It also flags up to the whole community that we are serious about this matter.”
Last month, a video of a street strewn with discarded water bottles in the wake of the London Marathon stoked calls for the race to abandon the use of plastic bottles.
Earlier this year, Scotland’s government said it would ban plastic straws, while businesses like JD Wetherspoon and Wagamama have already ended their use of the straws.
In March, researchers testing brands of bottled water for traces of microplastics found that “almost all were contaminated to some degree” with potentially harmful particles.
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