University of Guelph to remove plastic straws and bags from campus

As assortment of multi-coloured straws. Getty Images

The University of Guelph has announced it will be removing plastic bags and straws from campus this year.

Through its Twitter account this week, the university’s hospitality services department said it will remove all single-use plastic bags and straws at in-house retail and food service operations by fall 2018.

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“The decision actually came from a simple ask,” said Ed Townsley, executive director of the U of G’s hospitality services. “One of the students on our advisory committee simply asked why we still use plastic bags.”

He said the conversation grew from there and it’s expected to make a significant impact, since the bookstore uses 155,000 bags per year and the food service operations use 175,000 straws per year.

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Townsley said franchises on campus, such as Starbucks and Booster Juice, will still use plastic straws.

“Hopefully down the road they will take some action on that. But at this point, we don’t have any indication that they are going to change,” he said.

Townsley added that the initiative is just one of many within hospitality services. It also has a composting system, which will soon expand.

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The food service department makes everything from scratch, with all of the waste being composted and used in the campus gardens. The expansion will include post-consumer waste in the next couple of years, Townsley said.

“That’s a huge undertaking, obviously — more so than switching out bags — but equally as important,” he said.

The move comes during Sustainability Week and as a group called “Plastic Free Guelph” tries to convince businesses to eliminate plastic straws. So far 10local businesses have agreed to never use straws again.

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