Duke University has banned the use of disposable plastics campus-wide for all Duke Dining locations. Part of The Deliberate Dining Project, the program bans single-use, carry-out plastic bags and disposable plastic food service wear.

According to Marcus Carson, assistant director of Duke Dining for Sustainability and Quality Control, “This change in policy is a big deal, and while not easy to implement, we are passionate about the impact the disposable plastics will have on the environment and are proud to be a national industry leader in this important effort.”

Duke Dining locations will no longer carry single-use plastic carryout bags as well as disposable plastic food service ware. A single-use carryout bag is defined as any bag made from plastic that is provided by a retail establishment at the point of sale with a purpose for transporting purchased products and not intended for reuse.

Disposable plastic food service ware is defined as non-recyclable containers, plates, serving trays, hot and cold beverage cups and utensils that are made of plastic or plastic-coated paper and not intended for reuse.

Alternatives for the prohibited disposable plastic ware will be totally compostable or recyclable items with no plastic whatsoever. “Pollution from disposable plastics is a huge global issue, and we want to be contributing to solutions, not creating the problem,” says Carson. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Over the years, Duke Dining has eliminated the use of other non-recyclable products and implemented the following:

  • 100 percent ban on all bleached paper products
  • 100 percent ban on all Styrofoam products
  • Trayless dining

“Duke Dining is committed to operating in a manner that improves the health of the Duke community, reduces negative environmental impacts and strengthens the local food system,” says Carson. “Sustainability isn’t optional for Duke Dining; it’s who we are and how we define ourselves. The disposable plastics ban is another step in the right direction.”