Plastic straws eliminated from Purdue University for paper option

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University hopes to reduce unnecessary waste by replacing plastic straws with paper alternatives at its West Lafayette campus, which comes shortly after city officials took similar steps to cut down on plastic waste.

The transition was completed earlier this month. It affects more than 30 operations on campus, including all the restaurants in the Purdue Memorial Union. Purdue Dining & Catering estimates the campus used 650,000 plastic straws in the past year.

The transition shows the university’s “commitment to sustainability” and follows trends across the world, said Tom Coleman, director of retail dining for Purdue Dining & Catering.

“Replacing plastic straws with paper reduces environmental risk with a biodegradable product,” Coleman said in a university release. “The local impact of this transition will help reduce unnecessary waste on campus.”

The university is purchasing its paper straws from Fort Wayne-based Aardvark, the university said. Aardvark’s straws fully decompose in 45 to 60 days when composted, the company said.

“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.

The West Lafayette City Council approved a resolution earlier this year that asked businesses to reduce their use of plastic straws, stirrers and utensils.

The university’s Dining & Catering department also plans to raise awareness about straw waste and encourage students to stop using straws completely through a “Make This Your Last Straw” campaign.

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