UCLA BANS all single-use plastics

UCLA announced it will ban single-use plastics in order to reduce the university’s impact on the environment. 

The new policy will ultimately remove all single-use plastics ranging from cups and cup lids, plastic bags, utensils, bowls, and other “food accessory” items. The goal for UCLA is to have every dine-in or take-out restaurant, dining halls, events, and even departmental meetings move away from plastics completely and begin using locally compostable or reusable alternatives.

“As a biology major, I’ve studied how critical a healthy ocean is in fighting climate change, in carbon capture, biodiversity and as an ecosystem,” said UCLA junior, Sithara Menon, chair of the CALPIRG Students UCLA chapter. “It’s important, as students, that we take what we learn and use it, and I can do that starting here on this campus, helping reduce our plastic addiction.”

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The school explains that the vision behind the policy change is to move away from the common plastic water bottle and increase the number of water bottle hydration stations. In addition, the university has already added hundreds of compost bins around campus and in washrooms for disposing paper towels.

“It will be challenging,” Kikei Wong, UCLA’s Zero Waste Coordinator addressed. “There are so many single-use plastics everywhere in our lives that we depend on for convenience, but for the planet, this is the next step that we have to take.”

According to the university, the change in UCLA policy will be ready for a 30-day public review before mid-March, and the target date to go into effect on July 1. 

UCLA sustainability staff had worked closely with other University of California staff in spring 2019 to develop a broader policy that would be applied across the entire system. UCLA, on the other hand, has decided to implement its own ambitious plan with earlier deadlines and aggressive targets. 

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Student involvement played a role in advocating for these changes. The UCLA chapter of the California Student Public Interest Research Group (CALPRIG Students) collected around 1,900 student signatures to support the phasing out of single-use plastics. Additionally, the student group made announcements in classrooms that reached around 10,000 students to bring further attention to the initiative.

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