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Marshall University to go plastic-free by 2026

Marshall University Logo(Marshall University)

By WSAZ News Staff

Published: Jan. 25, 2021 at 11:46 AM PST

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Marshall University has announced it has made a commitment to go plastic-free by 2026.

The university joined the “zero waste” movement.

Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert recently signed the ‘Break Free from Plastic Campus Pledge.’ It’s a campus-wide commitment to eliminate all single-use disposable plastics. The pledge specifically addresses accessibility and inclusivity concerns and generates a framework for college campuses and other institutions to develop long-term systemic solutions to issues around waste and disposable consumption.

“Reducing our dependence on disposable plastic is another step forward in our sustainability efforts at Marshall,” said Gilbert. “This is a project the entire Marshall family can rally around and help our community reduce its overall waste products.”

Officials say this initiative was led by the MU Sustainability Club. It’s supported by the non-profit Post-Landfill Action Network.

“By reducing single-use plastics, we reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill,” said Marshall University’s Sustainability Manager, Amy Parsons-White. “Plastic can be around for thousands of years and since less than 30% of plastic sent to recycling facilities actually gets recycled, that adds up to a lot of waste with no place to go. It ends up in the oceans, in the ground and microplastics have even been found in our drinking water. This can pose a health risk to people and animals.”

She says vegetable-based plastics may cost more up front, but you can save money by reducing the hauling of waste to landfills.

“Marshall’s new compost facility will be able to handle all of this waste and turn it into a usable, sellable product, leaving a net zero cost to transition to compostable, vegetable-based plastics,” said Parsons-White. “Reducing single-use plastics on campus and increasing the use of compostables will change the way that we, as a community, think and behave when it comes to plastics. It will allow our students, staff, and faculty to be exposed to the issues surrounding plastic waste, while offering plastic alternatives that they will be able to incorporate into their daily lives.”

The university got its final piece of equipment needed for its commercial composting facility last week. It is expected to be up and running by March 2021. This will be the first commercial composting facility in the state of West Virginia and the eastern United States.

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