After many months of collaboration between the CSU Chancellor's Office and multiple CSU campuses, as well as multiple rounds of stakeholder feedback, the California State University has released its new policy on single-use plastics.
The policy, which was officially adopted on December 17th, calls on all CSU campuses to eliminate the distribution and sale of plastic straws, bottled water, plastic carryout bags, and Styrofoam food packaging by designated phase-out dates. To ensure alignment with existing state policies, the bans on plastic straws and carry-out bags went into effect on January 1st, 2019.
Beyond the specific products mentioned, the policy is meant to encourage and support campuses' efforts to phase out a wider array of single-use plastic items, which make up a significant proportion of the waste campuses send to landfills.
Items such as plastic food utensils, drink cups and lids, snack bags, and other plastic packaging items are much less likely to be recycled due to a lack of infrastructure for diverting them from the waste stream as well as the availability of end markets for the plastic materials they are composed of.
Public awareness about the negative environmental impacts of plastics has grown significantly in recent years and many organizations, cities, and states have taken the lead by adopting policies and practices meant to fight the scourge of single-use plastics. Across the CSU system, many campuses had already adopted their own bans on plastic bags, straws, and bottled water, but given recent state legislation and public support for addressing plastics pollution, adoption of this CSU-wide policy is appropriate and timely.
Many campus representatives worked closely with the CSU Chancellor's office to craft the policy, including CSULB's own Director of Procurement Malia Freund, who has been working to advance sustainable procurement policies on campus and across the system since joining The Beach in 2014.
While the new policy may be viewed as inconvenient by some, the overall benefits related to resource conservation and pollution reduction will hopefully outweigh the initial challenges. Most single-use plastic items can be replaced with more sustainable, reusable alternatives, it is simply a matter of adjusting the practices we are used, adopting new habits, and finding creative new solutions to old problems. Policies like this one can provide an important and much needed step toward a less wasteful future.
Read the policy HERE.