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Duke University bans all disposable plastic across campus dining

Duke University has taken a major step toward a greener campus with its decision to eliminate all forms of disposable plastic in all 34 of its campus dining locations.

According to an official university release, the change took effect July 1, with all dining locations on Duke’s campus now required to eliminate single-use plastic carryout bags, plastic hot and cold beverage cups, plastic straws and plastic utensils. The plastic ban adds to previous efforts that eliminated Styrofoam and bleached paper products from campus.

“Sustainability isn’t optional for Duke Dining; it’s who we are and how we define ourselves,” said Robert Coffey, director of Duke Dining, in the release. “The disposable plastics ban is another step in the right direction.”

Campus dining venues, including non-university vendors, will now use paper bags, utensils and straws, along with drink ware made from a Polylactic acid (PLA), a biodegradable plant-based substance.

“We have composting infrastructure and we have a pretty robust recycling infrastructure on campus,” added Marcus Carson, assistant director of Duke Dining for Sustainability and Quality Control. “And there are compostable and recyclable alternatives for these products out there and the price point has come down significantly since when they were introduced.”

Duke’s new ban on disposable plastics was inspired, in part, by the recent national movement to eliminate the use of plastic drinking straws that are often used but rarely recycled.

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