Vending machines are part of the plastic-free solution on New York college campus

March 9, 2021

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry said it has had all plastic beverage bottles removed from vending machines across its campuses in New York.

In 2020, SUNY ESF was the first New York State college to sign the “Break Free from Plastic”campus pledge, committing to develop a roadmap to a plastic-free campus by 2025. The pledge was developed by the Post-Landfill Action Network, or PLAN.

The Break Free from Plastic movement started in 2016 to eliminate single-use plastic internationally.

"We are committed to being a leader in the global fight to reduce unnecessary single-use plastics," said Susan Fassler, sustainable facilities manager.

“We first decided to address vending machines on our campus after a discussion with SUNY New Paltz's sustainability team,” Fassler added. “They are shifting away from plastic beverage containers, too, so we decided to join in and keep the momentum rolling. Plus, as more colleges/universities make this shift, we will start to see a wider variety of beverage options in aluminum cans. We can help drive the market in this way."

Fassler worked with ESF's business office and American Food and Vending, the College's foodservice vendor, to replace beverages offered in plastic bottles with options in aluminum. This effort supports similar initiatives across ESF's Syracuse campus, including the installation of water bottle refilling stations in high-traffic areas across campus.

"Since we overhauled our campus materials management system and added campus-wide composting at the Syracuse campus, we've documented a 46% increase in recycling and a 34% decrease in trash (by weight)," Fassler reported. "Our efforts are working. The results are measurable."


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