LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — University of California announced Monday it would begin phasing out single-use plastics, starting with plastic bags, utensils and straws in 2021.
The new policy, which was announced jointly by the Office of the President and CALPIRG Students, has a goal of phasing out all non-essential plastics at all of University of California's 10 campuses by 2030.
"Students are more conscious than ever of the consumption of plastic and its negative impact on our environment and public health, so we're thrilled that our institution, which has so much purchasing power in California, is taking major steps to eliminate single-use plastic," UC Berkeley graduate Nicole Haynes said in a statement.
The phase-out will begin with plastic bags, which will be eliminated by Jan. 1, 2021 at UC stores and restaurants. Single-use plastic straw, utensils and stirrers will be eliminated by July 1, 2021 and replaced with compostable or reusable alternatives, with exceptions for accessibility needs.
Dine-in facilities will be required to provide reusable plates, cups and clamshell containers for food consumed on site by July 1, 2022. Single-use plastic beverage bottles will be phased out by Jan. 1, 2023, and campuses will be encouraged to install water refill stations.
The new goal is expected to make a major impact across California. As an example, UCLA typically serves about 30,000 meals a day through its residential dining halls, and roughly half of those meals involve single-use materials, according to Erin Fabris, UCLA's sustainability manager for housing and hospitality.
"When you multiply that number across the 10 campuses, you see how significant the policy is," she said in a statement.
UC says less than 15 percent of single-use plastic gets recycled in California because the cost exceeds the value of the resulting material and most plastic bottles and other single-use items end up in landfills, oceans, and rivers.
"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," David Phillips, associate vice president for UC's Department of Energy and Sustainability, said in a statement.
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