March 18, 2019

Purdue ditches plastic for paper straws in residential, retail outlets

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. —Purdue Dining & Catering is making the switch from plastic to paper straws in Purdue’s residential and retail outlets.

The transition from plastic to paper straws will be complete as of Monday (March 18). This will include all retail outlets, along with residential On-The-Go locations in the dining courts and Marriott Hall.

Dining & Catering officials estimate 650,000 plastic straws were used in campus dining and retail locations last year. Dining & Catering serves an average of 21,000 students per day.

“The transition to paper straws represents our commitment to sustainability and follows trends we are seeing worldwide,” says Tom Coleman, director of retail dining. “Replacing plastic straws with paper reduces environmental risk with a biodegradable product. The local impact of this transition will help reduce unnecessary waste on campus.”

The paper straws used by Dining & Catering will be locally sourced from Aardvark, located in Fort Wayne. Aardvark paper straws are the only such straws on the market that are made in the U.S., use only FDA-compliant, food-grade materials, and are marine degradable and compostable, according to the company’s website.  The website also says that under typical composting conditions, Aardvark straws take 45 to 60 days to fully decompose, and six months or fewer in marine environments.

“It’s not only important to us to make this transition, but it is also exciting that we are able to partner with another Indiana-based business to make this happen,” Coleman said. “Using a locally-sourced product further contributes to an environmentally friendly practice by reducing the amount of resources used to ship product as well as the distance it must be shipped.”

The change aligns Dining & Catering with a local movement to reduce the use of plastic straws in West Lafayette. West Lafayette’s city council recently voted unanimously in favor of a resolution that would urge commercial and educational establishments to reduce the use of plastic straws and prevent plastic straws from being distributed at city facilities.

Dining & Catering is additionally bringing awareness to the reduction of straw waste through the “Make This Your Last Straw” campaign, which encourages customers to avoid using a straw.

The transition to paper straws adds to Dining & Catering’s numerous initiatives designed to promote the use of recyclable products and reduce waste. Ongoing projects include a reusable cup program, biodiesel production from fryer oil and grease products, zero-waste events, recycling programs and the use of recycled take-out containers.

Purdue is celebrating its sesquicentennial, 150 Years of Giant Leaps. This yearlong celebration is highlighting Purdue’s remarkable history of giant leaps, while focusing on what giant leaps, Purdue can take to address the world’s problems. The campaign launched Homecoming 2018 and there will be numerous events through Homecoming 2019, as well as the various Ideas Festival events, which are the centerpiece of the Giant Leaps Sesquicentennial campaign. ​ 

Writer: Matt Vader, writer/social media coordinator, Purdue Student Life Marketing, mvader@purdue.edu 

Media Contact: Abbey Nickel, 765-496-1325, nickela@purdue.edu 

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