Plastic bag bill passes in ASMSU
At ASMSU's general assembly meeting, a bill was passed to encourage MSU Food Services to stop distributing plastic bags.
The bill comes after the success of ASMSU's environmental working-group, Greener Together, collected many plastic bags in return for reusable bags from students, exceeding the amount of bags they anticipated receiving by 2,000.
Greener Together leader and assistant to the vice president of governmental affairs, Della Uekert, was excited by this outcome.
“What we expected from the program is if we had bought 400 reusable totes and everyone turned in ten plastic bags in exchange, then what we expected to get from this program was 4,000 bags," Uekert said. "What’s really exciting is that at the end of this program we actually recycled over 6,000 plastic bags.”
Uekert explained what was asked of students.
“What we asked students to do is we asked them to turn in ten plastic bags in return for one of the reusable grocery totes, and we’ve been taking those plastic bags and taking them around town and recycling them at a couple of different Meijers and a Kroger," Uekert said.
Uekert said she believes the success shows a willingness in students to make a difference in the world.
“It’s a really big testament to getting students involved on campus that when we gave them the opportunity to kind of like make a change in their lifestyle, a lot of them were really, really excited about the change,” Uekert said.
Greener Together worked with the Student Greenhouse over the course of the semester to accomplish this goal.
“We worked with the Student Greenhouse, and they grow a lot of fresh produce in south campus, and they always set up a farm stand," Uekert said. "We were out there with them for all of September and October putting the bags out for a lot of their customers.”
The initial bill was supposed to just focus on Sparty's giving out plastic bags. Uekert commented on this prior to the vote.
“Because the plastic bag program was so successful, we really wanted to kind of continue and use the momentum," Uekert said. "So, Sparty’s on campus gives out plastic bags to students if they ask for them, and right now the MSU Recycling Center isn't recycling plastic bags because there isn’t a market for it.”
ASMSU representative Jacqueline Zarzycki works for the MSU Recycling Center and explained why plastic bags end up in landfills.
“There’s no market for plastic film right now, so basically anywhere where you’re going to be recycling plastic bags right now, whether you’re dropping them off at the MSU Recycling Center or East Lansing public drop off, or you’re taking them to the Meijer, they’re probably not getting recycled,” Zarzycki said.
ASMSU representative Dante Booker works for Sparty's on the Human Resources end. He proposed an amendment to the bill that passed to include all of MSU Food Services in order to broaden the scope. This amendment was supported by Representative Benjamin Horne.
“We had a really good discussion to this effect in policy last week," Horne said. "So, I think increasing the scope of this bill is incredibly effective.”
Zarzycki supported the bill and pointed out its timeliness to the assembly.
“I’m really excited about this bill," Zarzycki said. "It is America Recycles Week, so I think that everyone should be thinking a little bit about recycling.”