-For Immediate Release-
Newark, NJ – Exactly a week ago, on March 2, 2020, Brian Conway, Director of Gourmet Dining at Rutgers – Newark, announced a ban on all plastic bags used in their dining facilities across campus.
This is an exciting time for NJPIRG Students, who is a part of Break Free From Plastics, the global movement working to stop plastic pollution for good, and has been working with partners both on and off-campus for close to a year to ban single-use plastics on campus.
Plastic is everywhere. So much so that disposable plastic items like plastic foam cups and take out containers, bags, straws, utensils, and packaging, makeup nearly half of all plastic use. The EPA estimates that Americans throw away 25 billion plastic foam cups every year, 22 billion plastic bottles, 63 billion plastic straws, and 100 billion plastic bags.
Our plastic waste doesn’t biodegrade and most – over 95 percent – is not recycled. Therefore, virtually every piece of plastic that has ever escaped into the environment will remain there for hundreds of years, collecting at a rate of 8 million tons a year, which is enough to cover every foot of coastline with 5 plastic bags. Over time, this plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics. As a result, scientists have discovered plastic pollution in every corner of the globe, from mountain tops to ocean trenches, and inside our bodies.
“We [Rutgers – Newark] have a unique strength and influence as an Anchor Institution in the largest city in New Jersey and as one of the ‘Big Ten’ schools to create positive environmental change that expands beyond campus,” said Deynna Nolazco, Zero Waste Campaign Coordinator and Junior at Rutgers – Newark, “Therefore, we have the responsibility to take bold steps in reducing landfill use and advocating for the right to a clean and healthy environment.”
The NJPIRG Students chapter at Rutgers – Newark has collected close to 1000 petitions from students in support of banning single-use plastics, held numerous events to increase visibility and education around plastic pollution, and regularly shares social media posts around this issue. These efforts will only be successful if we continue to work together with partners like Gourmet Dining and the Pantry RU-N, who have both banned plastic bags at their facilities. We are excited to continue to make these strides in curbing plastic pollution on our campus, and like Brian Conway said, “We hope that the campus community will support us in our efforts of sustainability.”
“The time is now,” said Marcela Lewanski, a student intern with NJPIRG Students and Junior at Rutgers Newark, “The drive to reduce plastic pollution use has never been stronger, and Rutgers – Newark has just begun its journey in the global movement to break free from plastics.”
|NJPIRG Students is a part of the Student PIRGs, a nonprofit organization that works to train students on college campuses across the country to advocate for the public’s interest and tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. The Zero Waste campaign at Rutgers – Newark is working to ban single-use plastics on campus and ultimately reduce the overall landfill use of the university and move towards being zero waste.|