UC Berkeley, city of Berkeley commit to reducing single-use plastics by 2030

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Both UC Berkeley and the city of Berkeley have announced initiatives to reduce and, to some extent, eliminate all single-use plastics by 2030.

With the help of CalPIRG, campus has committed to eliminating all single-use plastics by replacing them with viable alternatives by 2030. UC Berkeley’s goal marks a step toward sustainability by initiating the country’s strongest ban on single-use plastic, according to a CalPIRG press release.

“Plastics are a huge issue for our environment and for our health,” said campus CalPIRG chapter chair Nicole Haynes. “We are at a climate crisis and we can’t just keep making little steps, we have to be making big strides.”

Haynes added that she first stressed the importance of UC Berkeley banning plastics to the CalPIRG team about a year ago but she did not expect to see the campus commit to this action “so soon.”

Haynes noted that campus will run into some difficulties during this process involving dining halls, cafés and labs that use many different kinds of single-use plastics. She added, however, that both dining halls and independent cafés around campus have signed on to support the resolution.

“It is possible to phase out single use non-essential plastic, if we pursue and create environmentally sound alternatives and reduce so much of the unnecessary packaging,” said UC Berkeley’s chief Sustainability and Carbon Solutions officer Kira Stoll in the press release.

The support of many, including Vice Chancellor for Research Randy Katz, was crucial to campus’s adoption of this target. According to the press release, he is committed to making campus’s research enterprise as safe and sustainable as possible.

Chancellor Carol Christ added in the press release that campus is “proud” to be the first university campus to commit to eliminating all of its nonessential single-use plastics and to contribute to a “positive effect” on the environment and public health.

“We are really pushing the envelope,” Haynes said. “We are hoping to really make a difference by really pushing for those upstream solutions.”

The city of Berkeley mirrored campus’s initiatives by adopting a resolution April 14 to affirm Berkeley’s support for Senate Bill 54 and Assembly Bill 1080.

Both bills would set binding goals on all single-use plastic packaging and products sold or distributed in California, according to the City Council item. If passed, the bills mandate that these products be reduced or recycled by 75% by 2030 and be recyclable or compostable on and after 2030.

“These bills would have multi-pronged effects,” read the City Council item. “Reduced plastic waste and pollution would not only significantly ameliorate worsening environmental conditions and help California achieve its environmental goals but would also provide financial benefits in decreasing the costs associated with handling and processing plastic waste.”

Contact Olivia González-Britt at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Oliviagbritt.