UTS is going plastic free
- UTS plans to eliminate the most common single-use plastic items from our campus by 2020, including straws, bags, food containers, bottles, and plastic-lined coffee cups.
- Single-use plastic items will be replaced by reusable, recyclable and compostable alternatives.
- Our Plastic Free by 2020 Plan, developed in consultation with students and staff, provides a road-map for phasing out single use plastics
Plastic waste is a big problem. When plastics enter the environment, they pollute waterways and are a risk to wildlife. Millions of birds and animals die each year by ingesting plastic. Even more worrying, plastics in landfill break down into tiny micro particles and enter the food chain. Even some human foods now contain plastic residues.
The main problem has been the explosion of ‘disposable’ single-use plastics, especially plastic packaging. Many items can’t be recycled.
But there are other solutions. Most single-use plastics can be replaced by reusable items. In other cases, it can be easy to switch to compostable or recyclable options.
The UTS Plastic Free by 2020 Plan provides a roadmap to eliminating the most common single-use plastics from our campus, which include plastic straws, plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic cutlery, plastic take-away food containers and plastic lined coffee cups. Developed with input from students and staff, the plan aims to change practices and behaviours, to have a meaningful impact on the amount of plastic discarded by the UTS community each week.
“As a community, we have to stop thinking of plastic as ‘disposable’,” says UTS Sustainability Manager Danielle McCartney. “For generations, plastic has been cheap, convenient and a constant part of daily activities. We now have to retrain ourselves. With a small amount of effort, we can still enjoy a takeaway coffee or grab lunch on the run without adding to the plastic problem.”
The Sustainability team is working with on-campus food and coffee outlets to find alternatives to plastic items, to provide incentives for BYO coffee cups, and to explain the benefits of reusable drink bottles, cutlery and food containers to customers. The university is also investing in water fountains and washing-up facilities that enable re-usable alternatives.
“Our students and staff also need to play a big part,” says Danielle. “Refusing to take single-use items like cutlery, takeaway containers and drinking straws sends a powerful message.”
“Six tons of plastic waste are produced within the City of Sydney, every single day. By reducing our own plastic use, we set an example for our neighbours and partners.”
With 2020 on the horizon, Danielle and her team are calling on everyone in the UTS community to help change the culture on campus and beyond.
“Small actions add up,” she adds. “If every one of our staff and students used one less disposable coffee cup or plastic takeaway container each week, there would be two million less plastic items in landfill by the end of the year. That’s huge.”
What you can do
- Carry a reusable cup, drink bottle, cutlery set and food container
- Choose to refuse straws and plastic bags
- Support retailers using reusable and compostable packaging
- Shop wisely, minimise single-use items.