Diners at Cal Poly Pomona can sip their drinks with a clean conscious after a campus-wide switch to compostable straws.
The CSU Chancellor’s Office passed a ban at the start of the year on single-use plastic straws across the 23-campus system. The deadline to meet the ban is Jan. 1, 2020.
In 2018-19, the campus community used 631,000 single-use plastic straws. Those straws ended up in landfills, but they also made their way to the ocean. Foundation Dining Services owns and operates 28 dining outlets, 12 of which are franchises. All campus dining entities are required to comply with the ban.
“Our goal is to be ahead of the curve in doing this,” said Aaron Neilson, director of Foundation Dining Services. “The single-use straw ban is only one element in our overall sustainability strategy, which includes composting, reusable containers, and sustainable food sourcing, among other things.”
The switch to environmentally friendly compostable straws and reusable straws was introduced at the start of the fall semester and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Reusable metal straws with CPP branding are available for purchase at dining locations across the campus.
“The goals of the CSU are ambitious, but these steps have to be made in order to help the environment,” said Monika Kamboures, the university’s sustainability coordinator. “This policy aligns with the strategic goals of Cal Poly Pomona in terms of sustainability.”
In addition to the ban on plastic straws, the CSU order also covers other single-use plastic items, such as polystyrene foam that is commonly used in food containers and packaging material, by Jan. 1, 2021.
Foundation Dining Services took the initiative and eliminated the use of polystyrene in 2016, switching out all single-use plastics for compostable, recyclable or reusable items. Exceptions to the policy are items that are deemed necessary to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Dining Services is now setting its sights on single-use water bottles. While already reducing number of single-use plastic water bottles on campus, the goal is to eliminate them by 2023.
“We intend on transitioning our customers to reusable beverage containers and increasing the number of locations in which they can conveniently refill them over the coming years.” Neilson said. “We believe that three years will be required to change the mindset in regard to single-use bottled water.”