Several people in a newsroom

UC Davis to Eliminate Single-Use Plastics

by | Aug 31, 2020 | Environment, On Campus

The University of California is phasing out single-use plastics, and UC Davis is already ahead of the curve.

Starting in January and continuing through 2023, all UC campuses and medical centers will phase out various kinds of plastic, from single-use bags to plastic beverage bottles.

“The persistent environmental damage wrought by plastics on the environment and human health is well-known,” said David Phillips, associate vice president for UC’s Department of Energy and Sustainability and a former UC Davis director of utilities. “With changes in the recycling industry that make it more difficult to reuse plastic products, the clear solution is to phase out single-use plastics so they never enter our waste stream in the first place.”

First to go around the UC system are single-use plastic bags, which have already been removed from the Coffee House, UC Davis Stores and all Dining Services eateries.

By July 1, single-use plastic straws and utensils will be phased out — something UC Davis had almost achieved before the pandemic hit.

“We’re working toward omitting single-use plastic accessories and are very close, but with COVID forcing food service to be to-go only, we currently are using some plastic cutlery,” said Kraig Brady, director of Hospitality and Dining Services. All single-use utensils at the CoHo are compostable.

A year later, all UC locations will provide reusable plates and cups for food eaten on site and package to-go food in compostable or reusable containers. Dining Services already does both of these things, and the CoHo is nearly there.

“We are still working on a solution for dine-in options, but if we are considered a ‘to-go’ facility, 99 percent of our items also all qualify as compostable,” said Darin Schluep, director of the CoHo.

The final phase of UC’s plastic phase-out plan bans the sale of single-use plastic beverage bottles by 2023, and UC Davis was already on its way to this goal as early as last fall. Both Dining Services and UC Davis Stores asked campus beverage vendor Pepsi to provide all drinks in cans or glass bottles, and the CoHo had been exploring options like PathWater, still and sparkling water that is sold in aluminum bottles.

“We have not used plastic bags for a number of years now and we also have phased out 20-ounce plastic bottles of soda to aluminum cans,” said Lois Baertschi, associate director of sales for UC Davis Stores. “Everything that was able to be changed out has been, and now we are working with some of the smaller vendors to see what options they can give us.”