Otago Uni has announced that as of July 15, they will be phasing out disposable cups across all campus cafes. The first three cafes to be affected by this change will be St. Davids, Te Mātiti and Staff Club. While some students already use reusable cups at the campus cafes, the University has estimated that each cafe uses 14,000 cups each week. To make matters worse, the Uni has said that each cup is used on average for 3 minutes before being disposed of. With 9 cafes on campus, there are an estimated 126,000 cups that would otherwise be reaching landfill each week. That’s a shit load of cups.
As part of the initiative, the Uni will be setting up a mug library in the Link available for all students to use, alongside keep cup giveaways in the coming weeks. With the proposed change, students would be required to bring their own mugs or keep cups into uni to minimise environmental impact.
Reception amongst the student body is largely positive. Third-year student, Emily, said, “I think it’s great that we’re not just sitting here patting ourselves on the back for banning plastic bags but are continuing to look for ways that we can help reduce our impact on the environment”. She says that the Uni’s move is a reflection of students’ attitudes about the environment. “Otago students caring about something other than burning couches. Take that, ODT.” Lizzy, a third-year student, supports the change, believing issues like this need to come from the top down. “The Uni has to help out and stop just expecting students to make the change. We need it from the top.”
Students also said that this initiative felt like only just the beginning, with one saying, “It’s going to be interesting to see what other cutbacks on plastic the University will be looking at, especially with all the takeaway options like sushi dishes and salad containers”.
When asked if they thought the Uni’s expectation on students bringing in their own cups and mugs was reasonable, Lizzy said, “There’s so many cups in op shops and shit there's no need for one use cups”. Another student noted that “Hussey & Laredo have already been letting students borrow mugs rather than give them disposable cups. You can buy keep cups from Uni for 10 bucks and then get a free coffee with them, and then with the mug library… there’s literally no excuse.”