The last straw

By The News Staff

The Bon Appétit ManagementCompany committed to eliminating all plastic straws and stirrers from their cafés and restaurants by September 2019.

Raul Delgado, general manager at Bon Appétit, said the policy is a continuation of the company’s mission as “a food service for the sustainable future.” A New York Times article titled “Raising Awareness of Plastic Waste” states that only about 10 percent of the 300 million tons of plastic produced globally each year is recycled.

According to the Strawless Ocean campaign, if plastic consumption continues at current rates there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by the year 2050. Straws are one of the top 10 items found during beach cleanups and cause significant harm to marine life.

Although the plastic straws are technically recyclable, most are not mechanically sorted properly and are discarded as garbage. Bon Appétit has a policy requiring 20 percent of products to be purchased locally and switching to-go containers from styrofoam to a biodegradable option. Nationally, the plastic straw ban will reach Bon Appétit’s 1,000 centers across 33 states.

According to a National Geographic article from July 2018, the management company  is one of a few major groups banning plastic straws including Starbucks, Marriott hotels and American Airlines.

While removal of plastic straws and stirrers from Anderson Commons may go unnoticed, the policy’s rollout at the Stupe and Sam’s locations will be more challenging, explained Delgado. Sam’s must follow Starbucks serving utensil policy because of their contracting agreement, so plastic straws will still be available at Sam’s until a non-plastic replacement is finalized.

As the ban takes effect, paper straws will be made available for those who need them. However, this may not be a perfect solution, as frozen drinks present a particular challenge to plastic alternatives.

Eliminating this single-use plastic is a step, but does not erase the impact of other plastic and waste on campus. The ResLife staff handbook explains that if paper and plastic are contaminated by grease, food leftovers or other trash, then all recyclable items in the bin are considered contaminated and thrown away with the regular garbage.

Delgado cited opportunities for students to take initiative by bringing their own reusable straws or opting out of straws altogether.

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