Single-use plastics will soon leave Long Beach State; it’s about time

Plastic waste is choking the world.

Eight million tons of the stuff is dumped into the world’s oceans every year, which has resulted in a “garbage patch” twice the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean.

Single-use plastics have no place at Long Beach State, so why do I get a plastic fork redundantly wrapped in plastic every time I order a rice bowl?

As a coastal community, hell as people, we cannot continue to contribute to a problem that has such a profound negative impact on the world around us.

Our overreliance on plastics, specifically single-use plastics, is decimating marine life and flooding beaches. The California State University system’s reliance on plastics has made it a major contributor to this issue, but that’s set to change.

Policy 5236 will dramatically curb the use of plastics and ban single-use plastics in entirety. This is absolutely the right call. Additionally, the City of Long Beach is considering a similar ban.

Although these bans are a step in the right direction, they don’t go far enough.

The CSU policy states a “preference shall be given” to reusable products, but that compostable and biodegradable plastics are still permitted.

This is a step in the right direction for the CSU system, even if it is overdue.

Although single-use plastics are recyclable, the methods for recycling them are far from perfect, and a good number of them will end up in the trash anyway.

Some estimates say that of all plastic bottles produced, only 9% are recycled, and the actual processing of plastics is complicated and deeply flawed. Just because you put something in the recycling doesn’t mean that it gets recycled.

Biodegradable, or compostable, single-use “plastics” have been a thing for years, but their efficacy is debatable.

Hopefully, Long Beach State will error on the side of reusable rather than compostable, because their use is a half-measure.

Although there are compostable materials at the restaurants, the take-out containers at the Nugget Grill & Pub are a great example, there are even more examples of waste.

When almost every restaurant on campus serves its food with a plastic fork or spoon, there is a major problem. This won’t be an entirely comfortable transition, if they do dramatically minimize even compostable plastics, as they should, to-go orders might come without utensils.

This might be annoying for some, but it’s not that big of a deal, and sometimes we just need to suck it up and do what’s best for the environment.

Reversing the damage we have done to the planet will be a team effort, and it won’t be easy. Although the majority of the problem is fueled by big business, many of the changes necessary will affect your average person in annoying ways.

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