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SAN LUIS OBISPO — Campus Dining is making the switch to paper straws at the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year, taking another step toward Cal Poly’s zero waste goal.

The move away from plastic straws to a more recyclable alternative supports Cal Poly’s commitment to sustainability as the university works toward diverting 80 percent of consumer waste away from landfills by 2020.

“Feeding the campus community has the potential to create a lot of waste, yet we continue to reduce our footprint through all of the programs that we have put in place and the changes we have made,” Campus Dining Assistant Director Russell Monteath said. “We are constantly looking for ways to reduce our waste and are more than happy to do our part as we move toward zero waste.”

Cal Poly plans to partner with San Luis Paper, a local paper supply company. Because the straws are made of paper, they are fully compostable and decompose within 30 to 60 days.

Currently students, faculty, staff and visitors use close to 1 million straws per year, on average. Although plastic straws are a small portion of overall plastic pollution, they are high on the list of most common objects collected during beach cleanups and in the ocean, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Campus Dining’s adoption of paper straws follows a nationwide trend of companies and city governments moving to recyclable alternatives, including Santa Barbara, which has banned plastic straws, and San Luis Obispo, which made plastic straws available only by request.