Kitchener-Waterloo

U of G says goodbye to plastic bags and straws

In a series of tweets on Monday, the University of Guelph said they will be removing all single-use plastic straws and plastic bags from all in-house retail and food service operations by Fall 2018.

University announcement comes as Plastic Free Guelph advocacy group works to remove straws in the city

The University of Guelph announced it will be removing all single-use plastic straws and bags from all in-house retail and restaurant operations by fall 2018. (@HospitalityUofG / Twitter)

In the spirit of sustainability week, the University of Guelph (U of G) has announced it will be removing plastic bags and straws by fall 2018.

In a series of tweets on Monday, the university said it will be removing all single-use plastic straws and plastic bags from all in-house retail and food service operations by the fall semester.

Ed Townsley, the executive director of hospitality services at U of G, said the decision to eliminate straws and bags was simple.

"We've been actively involved with different sustainability initiatives over the past 10 years and this was one that came up in one of our advisory committees, and we thought it was a good idea," he said in an interview with CBC News Wednesday.

The removal of straws will apply only to in-house restaurants. Townsley said. Of the 22 restaurants on campus, only five — the franchises like Starbucks and Booster Juice — will continue to offer plastic straws. 

"We aren't able to eliminate the plastic straws in the franchised outlets that we operate but in all of our locations we can," he said. "So it's about 175,000 straws that we will be able to eliminate from landfills."

Townsley said he expects that will change for franchises in the near future, "they just aren't there yet."

'Straws Suck'

The announcement comes as advocacy group Plastic Free Guelph works to get more businesses to eliminate the use of plastic straws in what the group calls its "Straws Suck" campaign.

This is the second year the group has run such a campaign. In 2017, 10 Guelph businesses committed to "never serving straws again.

As of last week, those businesses include the following:

  • Miijidaa Café and Bistro.
  • Crafty Ramen.
  • 10 Carden.
  • The Cornerstone.
  • The Stone Store Natural Foods.
  • Sip Club.
  • The Wooly Pub.
  • Wellington Water Watchers.
  • Borealis Grille.
  • Bar and The Boardroom.

Goodbye bags

Townsley said the elimination of bags will be even more significant than that of plastic straws. 

Plastic bags, he said, from retail, to books, to clothing to groceries, right down to bulk candy bags will be gone. 

"In our bookstore we have 155,000 plastic bags," he said, and the school has used biodegradable bags in the past few years.

 "That's a huge piece that's not going to go to the landfill."

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