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Purdue University gives plastic straws the boot; Fort Wayne company to provide paper alternative

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WPTA21) – Purdue University’s Dining & Catering division is phasing out the use of plastic drinking straws and will replace them with paper ones manufactured in Fort Wayne.

The school on Monday announced the switch, which will affect residential dining halls and retail outlets.

The transition to paper straws represents our commitment to sustainability and follows trends we are seeing worldwide,” Director of Retail Dining Tom Coleman said via statement. “Replacing plastic straws with paper reduces environmental risk with a biodegradable product. The local impact of this transition will help reduce unnecessary waste on campus.”

The paper straws will be supplied by Aardvark, a Fort Wayne-based manufacturer whose paper straw business has boomed in the past few years due, in part, to such moves.

The paper straws are degradable and typically decompose in 45-to-60 days, the company says.

“It’s not only important to us to make this transition, but it is also exciting that we are able to partner with another Indiana-based business to make this happen,” Coleman said. “Using a locally-sourced product further contributes to an environmentally friendly practice by reducing the amount of resources used to ship product as well as the distance it must be shipped.”

Dining & Catering said it would also raise awareness to the reduction of straw waste through the “Make This Your Last Straw” campaign, which encourages customers to avoid using a straw entirely.

Jonathan Shelley

Jonathan Shelley is the news director at WPTA TV, which he joined in 2016 following nine years in a similar role in New Orleans and previous news management positions in Oklahoma City and Las Vegas.

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