A precedent has been set by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) with their efforts to eliminate the most common single-use plastics on campus by 2020. This includes plastic straws, bottles, bags, cutlery, take-away food containers and plastic lined coffee cups. This is in line with their Plastic Free by 2020 Plan, which they developed in collaboration with their student body, faculty, and campus staff.
With the cooperation of the school community, UTS have begun to improve the practice of reducing waste and shifting behaviours toward using more sustainable packaging. “As a community, we have to stop thinking of plastic as ‘disposable’, cheap, convenient and a constant part of daily activities. We now have to retrain ourselves. With a small amount of effort, we can still enjoy a takeaway coffee or grab lunch on the run without adding to the plastic problem,” says UTS Sustainability Manager Danielle McCartney.
Starting with the Central Food Court, UTS’ Sustainability Team have integrated clauses in their merchant’s and vendor’s leases to ensure all their products are compostable. For many of their vendors, this is the first time they have integrated compostable packing into their food service and they see this as a good practice that their other franchises may implement in the future.
Switching to BioPak packaging, in conjunction with a waste collection service solution, enables businesses to divert their food and packaging waste from landfill and convert it into nutrient-rich compost.
The university has also invested in facilities such as water fountains and washing stations. This will encourage students to bring their own water bottles and containers to further curb single-use waste. All these efforts will add up towards UTS’ goal to become a plastic-free campus by 2020.
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