University of California campuses will start phasing-out single-use plastics, paving the way for campuses free of non-essential plastics by 2030, the UC Office of the President (UCOP) and CALPIRG Students announced. The new policy will transition UC away from plastic bags in retail and dining locations and eventually eliminate single-use plastic food service items and plastic bottles, helping to reduce the production of plastic pollution in California and prevent microplastics from contaminating waterways.

“Students are more conscious than ever of the consumption of plastic and its negative impact on our environment and public health, so we’re thrilled that our institution, which has so much purchasing power in California, is taking major steps to eliminate single-use plastic,” said UC Berkeley graduate Nicole Haynes, CALPIRG’s statewide Plastic-Free Seas coordinator.

CALPIRG Students worked closely with the UCOP in crafting the new policy. The Plastic-Free Seas Campaign collected more than 12,000 student signatures over the past year and sponsored resolutions with the UC Student Association and local student government on several UC campuses to support phasing out non-essential, single-use plastic on all UC campuses.

Given its significant purchasing power and size, this major initiative underscores UC as an even more impactful environmental leader, advocating for less plastic pollution and fewer landfills. UC researchers have shown that plastics can have a significant impact on the environment as only a small fraction of such products, especially single-use items, are recycled.

“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. “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.”

“Today’s announcement by the UCs to phase out disposable plastics is a testament to both California’s leadership and the tenacity of these students who continue to prove that not only is progress possible, but we have a duty to keep pushing for the change we want to see,” said Senator Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica. “SB 54 and AB 1080 will tackle plastic statewide, finally requiring businesses to do their part and take responsibility for the plastic packaging they are placing on the market – so we can to turn the tide and reduce the amount of plastic waste piling up in our communities.”

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