Campus Dining & Shops introduces new lids to promote straw alternative

Students think new 'drink-thru' lids are a start for 'straw-free' changes

new-lids-1

Campus Dining & Shops is clearing the way toward the future of drinking soda on campus.

CDS has introduced new “drink-thru” lids this semester at all of its retail dining locations, according to CDS marketing manager Ray Kohl. The new lids, which shy away from the common lid with center straw holes, fit in line with environmental initiatives nationwide to reduce plastic waste. Students said the new lids are a small change for the better but feel like more can be done toward sustainability at UB.

CDS’ new lids come amid a nationwide “straw-free” movement. Plastic products make up roughly eight million metric tons of plastic that flow into oceans, according to National Geographic. But a number of scientists don’t see straw bans as an all-encompassing solution to waste reduction, with some estimating roughly 2,000 tons of straws make up yearly plastic waste.

The movement has spread on social media and affected a number of businesses’ practices, such as Starbucks and Alaska Airlines. A number of people criticized the movement, however, for ableism and faulty statistics on straw usage. 

CDS’ new lids resemble those introduced by companies such as Starbucks last year. Kohl wrote in an email that the new “drink-thru” lids are recyclable along with the cup “whereas straws are not.” One new lid costs CDS two cents more than the old lids, Kohl wrote, and fits CDS cups “per manufacturer specifications.”

Kohl wrote it is too early to assess a reduction in straw usage, but CDS does see “many guests using the ‘drink-thru’ lids and has heard some positive feedback.”

The decisions have not affected CDS partners, such as Tim Hortons, but Kohl wrote that CDS is currently working with franchise partners to explore strawless alternatives.

“Our retail dining locations [at CDS] are currently working through their existing stock of straw lids and will have the ‘drink-thru’ lids available once their inventory is depleted,” Kohl wrote on Friday. “We anticipate most if not all locations should be into the new lids by the end of next week.”
 Students such as Grace Sheckler* said CDS’ move is a “small step in the right direction” but imagines that straws are a “very small part” of single-use consumption habits.

“I think that the initiative is good in the sense that it shows that people want to make a change, but I would say that overall, it will have little to no impact,” said Sheckler, a sophomore environmental engineering major. 

Sheckler said she doesn’t want to discourage any type of sustainable improvement like CDS’ but encourages UB to look at other environmental issues beyond straws. 

Alex Poland, a junior civil engineering major, said he personally does not use straws at CDS locations and perfers to drink his beverages without lids. He has seen a number of lids fall off students’ cups in the Student Union.

“As long as [CDS] can [make sure] the lid is on correctly and it doesn’t slide off, this is fine,” Poland said. “I know a lot of people who don’t like it but if CDS can re-evaluate the lid again, that’d help a lot. But I can see why some students prefer the older lid.”

Jason Gore, a freshman psychology major, said if students “really want to make a change” they can ask for biodegradable cups in the future.

“I’ll use what is given to me as a cup,” Gore said. “I feel like [the change] doesn’t make sense, if [CDS] wants a change to happen why not remove the plastic all together instead of reshaping the cup design?”

*Grace Sheckler has contributed articles to The Spectrum. 

Benjamin Blanchet is the editorial editor and can be reached at benjamin.blanchet@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @BenjaminUBSpec