A closer look at microplastics

A+closer+look+at+microplastics

Amanda Perelli

On-campus and within the surrounding community people are taking a closer look at microplastics.

[media-credit id=1006 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]In Hamden, one bill, co-sponsored by Reps. David Michel, D-Stamford, and Josh Elliott, D-Hamden would ban goods containing microplastics.

This ban would include single-use plastic bags at the state level, according to The New Haven Register.

Jennifer Pope, a member of the town Solid Waste & Recycling Commission, said she thinks “it’s important that we take a step quickly. It’s already long overdue,” at a Legislative Council meeting according to The New Haven Register.

The proposed act would affect products that contain microplastics including the use of plastic straws, stirrers, single-use plastic bags and helium balloons. The purpose of the act is to reduce plastic pollution.

In the United States, California was the first state to enact a statewide ban single-use plastic bags in August 2014. This bill requires a 10-cent minimum charge for recycled paper bags, reusable plastic bags and compostable bags across certain retail locations, according to The National Conference of State Legislatures, state plastic and paper bag legislation.

Certain parts of New York State enforce similar bans, charging 10-cents a bag. Towns across Long Island encouraged seaside restaurants to switch to paper straws last summer, when local officials and environmentalists launched “Strawless Suffolk,” according to the Surfrider Foundation of Eastern Long Island.

For business owners, switching from plastic to paper could have a possible monetary impact. On-campus, Quinnipiac Dining has kicked off 2019 with a variety of environmentally focused initiatives.

Morgan Watson, QU Dining marketing manager said that any new state legislation in regards to single-use plastic would require the company to find alternative solutions.

“Quinnipiac Dining would have to find alternatives to some of the packaging we are using now,” Watson said. “We currently use plant-based biodegradable plates and bowls. The smoothie cups are made entirely of plants. Seattle’s Best hot cups, Starbucks hot cups, coffee sleeves, French fry cups, napkins and Greek yogurt cups are made from post-consumer fiber.”

Post-consumer fiber is paper that has been thrown away after someone has used it.

QU Dining’s new program, “Love Food, Not Waste” was developed this year to bring awareness to waste on campus.

It’s composed of four key areas of waste-related to food service: food waste, water, energy and packaging.

“Each area addresses ways that our staff and guests can impact the amount of waste they produce by encouraging them to change their behavior,” Watson said. “We have posted signage in the servery as well as on the TV screens to encourage students to use china instead of a disposable container when dining in. We are also encouraging our associates to reduce their waste too.”

Sustainability initiatives already in place include incorporating sustainable seafood, eating local, Stop Food Waste Day, QU Food Rescue and incorporating Fair Trade products, according to Watson. They also added a Waste Warriors campaign and are in the process of initiating a Carbon Footprint program.

The company is researching alternatives to plastic straws and stirrers and they hope to have a replacement plan soon. Starbucks in the Student Center has already incorporated a ‘redesigned lid’ which eliminates a use for a straw. Watson said Pepsi is developing a new design for strawless lids as well.

“Hamden should be a leader instead of just waiting for someone else to do it for us,” Pope said.