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Single-Use Plastics Reduction

Plastic pollution in the environment is ubiquitous, creating international-level human, environmental health, and public policy challenges as well as a number of initiatives to reduce its proliferation.

The Lewis & Clark Sustainability Council developed a policy to remove plastic bottles from our vending and point of sale locations (dining and bookstores) beginning in Spring of 2018, followed by efforts to further reduce plastic bottled beverages, cutlery, cups, and straws from our dining facilities and catered events in the coming years. This policy was endorsed by the Sustainability Council and Executive Council and reflects feedback received from stakeholders across the campus.

Single-Use Plastic Elimination Policy

The Lewis & Clark Sustainability Council formally endorses efforts by the Lewis & Clark community to remove beverages in plastic bottles from campus vending and catering while promoting policies and practices to eliminate plastic bottles sales entirely. This effort aims to eliminate waste created by single-use items, to reduce our reliance on products containing fossil fuels, and support higher value recyclable or reusable items across our campuses.


May through August:

  • Install water filling stations
  • Supply bookstore with water bottles
  • Prepare communication materials for incoming students
Refillable water locations (in wall and tabletop dispenser):
  • Templeton: second floor (between College Outdoors and Events) and third floor (near IME)
  • Residence Halls: Copeland, Holmes Hall, Juniper, Tamarack, Howard Hall, Maggies
  • JR Howard, Dovecote, Pamplin
  • Grad: York
  • Law: LRC, Gantenbein
Information regarding plastic-bottled beverage reduction at LC:
  • Plastic-bottled beverage sales that do not have metal or glass alternative are limited across campus with the exception of bottled water (e.g. 23 beverages sold in one month across ALL vending machines).
  • In areas where bottled water will no longer be available, water filling stations and tabletop drink dispensers will be made available.
  • Significant pricing changes are not expected for the beverages provided in metal or glass containers.
  • Refillable containers for fountain beverages are being explored as a possible option for plastic-bottled beverages that cannot be replaced with a glass or metal container. These refillable options have resulted in a reduction of single-use plastics, disposable cups, and overall dining costs, on other campuses.
  • CAS Bookstore opened in January with can and glass bottled beverages only. Feedback to date has included requests for bottled water but no other requests for specific beverage types.
  • Vending and retail locations require 30 to 60 days to switch from plastic-bottled beverages to metal and glass.
  • Catering and dining switches from plastic to other service ware types will be pursued as a second phase of this initiative.
Regional and international information:
  • Plastic recycling markets are currently uncertain and problematic. Chinese markets for U.S.-generated plastic recycling has decreased over the past nine months and are now restricted for certain material types (City of Portland, 2017).
  • Anthropogenic debris, including both plastics and micro-plastic fibers, have been found in fish and shellfish destined for human consumption, including species harvested off the West Coast (Rochman, 2015).
  • Life cycle assessment data on water delivery methods has shown that drinking tap water in a reusable container as compared to a recyclable single-use plastic bottle, reduces life cycle energy use by 85% and greenhouse gas emissions by 79% (Allaway, 2009).
  • Increasing, Portland-based companies are reducing their use of disposable and single-use plastics such as straws, plastic bottles, and to-go containers.
  • In Portland, a 2012 ordinance to ban single-use plastic bags in the Portland area increased reusable bag use by 304% and paper bag use by 491% (Ponder, 2012).


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