Purdue Dining & Catering is making the switch from plastic to paper straws in Purdue’s residential and retail outlets. The transition was completed earlier this month. It affects more than 30 operations on campus, including all the restaurants in the Purdue Memorial Union. Purdue Dining & Catering estimates the campus used 650,000 plastic straws in the past year.

“The transition to paper straws represents our commitment to sustainability and follows trends we are seeing worldwide,” says Tom Coleman, director of retail dining. “Replacing plastic straws with paper reduces environmental risk with a biodegradable product. The local impact of this transition will help reduce unnecessary waste on campus.”

The change makes sense considering the Dining & Catering’s numerous initiatives designed to promote the use of recyclable products and reduce waste. Ongoing projects include a reusable cup program, biodiesel production from fryer oil and grease products, zero-waste events, recycling programs and the use of recycled take-out containers.

The university’s Dining & Catering department also plans to raise awareness about straw waste and encourage students to stop using straws completely through a “Make This Your Last Straw” campaign. While the West Lafayette City Council approved a resolution earlier this year that asked businesses to reduce their use of plastic straws, stirrers and utensils.

Sources: WTHR (Associated Press) and Purdue University