The University of California (UC) has announced a new policy to “phase out single-use plastic bags in retail and dining locations and then eliminate single-use plastic food service items and plastic bottles.”
Notes David Phillips, associate vice president for UC’s Department of Energy and Sustainability, “With changes in the recycling industry that make it more difficult to reuse plastic products, the clear solution is to phase out single-use plastics so they never enter our waste stream in the first place.”
This policy will apply to all of UC’s campuses as part of its zero-waste goals and will incentivize vendors to develop reusable or compostable packaging for their products.
Students and administrators are hopeful that the university’s significant purchasing power across California will lead to real, scalable change—especially once campuses can resume normal operations. “We can say, ‘It’s in a container that doesn’t work for our policy.’ The producer now has to listen to the consumer. That’s what’s going to be so revolutionary,” says Anne Brown Krieghoff, recycling and sustainability program manager for UC Irvine’s facilities management.
Each campus will tailor how it implements the changes to meet the specific needs of its food establishments and retail services.