UC San Diego has struck a blow for the environment and against those dreadful but ubiquitous little packing bubbles with a policy that will ban the use of plastic foam products on campus.
The policy was proposed by three graduate students at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography--David Wilmot, Don Croll and Craig Cary--who were concerned, in part, about the sea birds who eat discarded foam cups and such, which are not biodegradable. In addition to the problems of litter and waste disposal from using non-biodegradable products, polystyrene foam that is made with chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) can damage the stratosphere's layer of ozone, which protects the Earth from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.
The plastic industry has taken steps to eliminate CFCs from its products, but the questions of waste disposal are still being debated.
The UCSD policy is a common-sense one that will gradually phase out foam products as suppliers find less damaging substitutes. The food services department has already switched to paper plates and cups.
Which substitutes are the most environmentally sound will be the subject of discussions and research for some time, and UCSD may find that this policy is an evolving one.
But the university is to be applauded for taking this step to help protect the planet's ozone layer and the growing trash disposal problem.
UCSD will be the first campus in the UC system to adopt such a policy. Others, public and private, would be wise to follow the lead of the university, which once again has demonstrated that its reputation is well-deserved.