USG votes to remove plastic bags and polystyrene from campus

Adrienne Underwood, News Editor

Undergraduate Student Government passed two sustainability initiatives to make Tulane a plastic bag-free and polystyrene-free campus on Tuesday, Oct. 10, during the fifth session of USG Senate at Rogers Memorial Chapel.

The two resolutions call for the removal of plastic bags and polystyrene in order to reduce waste and avoid health and environmental concerns.

USG171002 Resolution to Make Tulane University a Polystyrene-free Campus follows a previous resolution regarding polystyrene passed last November to make Tulane a Styrofoam-free campus. Styrofoam is one brand of polystyrene packaging, so though all campus facilities removed Styrofoam, it was replaced with other polystyrene products.

“If you went to City Diner, for instance, you would see Snap it Foam which is the Genpack-branded polystyrene whereas styrofoam is Dow Chemical’s brand,” USG Director of Sustainability John Harris Alexander said.

By passing the new legislation calling for the removal of all forms of polystyrene, USG aims to target the material rather than the brand of polystyrene. USG’s Sustainability Committee plans to meet with members of Dining Services to develop a plan for implementation.

Expansion of the OZZI container system or the use of recycled materials made from post-consumer product will likely replace polystyrene containers in campus facilities. The resolution calls upon Dining Services to remove all polystyrene products from all on-campus locations by Jan. 1, 2018.

USG17100 Resolution to Make Tulane University a Plastic Bag-Free Campus was passed in an effort to avoid the cost of recycling plastic bags, their pollution of the environment and because they “waste energy.”

The plastic bag resolution’s ultimate goal is to ban the use of plastic bags in all campus facilities by Aug. 1, 2018. To facilitate a smoother transition, the resolution proposes that in the meantime plastic bags will be taxed 15 cents starting next semester. The revenue generated from this tax will be used towards the purchase of reusable bags.

Both resolutions note that Tulane is ranked as the “Greenest College Campus” in Louisiana and read, “it is our responsibility to take steps to reduce our consumption of non-reusable resources and help our environment to work towards a more sustainable future.”

“I hope by passing these measures we increase awareness of items and usage on campus, like the OZZI systems we have in the LBC and Bruff-to-Go that are specifically meant for to-go food and for carrying food,” Alexander said. “They are literally reusable containers that take the place of styrofoam and polystyrene.”

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