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Emory signs pledge to ‘break free’ from plastics

Metro ATL

Emory signs pledge to ‘break free’ from plastics

Image obtained via DeKalb County Schools.

Atlanta, GA — Emory University President Gregory Fenves has signed a “Break Free from Plastic Pledge” which gives the university five years to reduce the use of unnecessary single-use plastics on the university’s campuses, according to a press release.

According to the press release, by 2026, Emory University and Oxford College pledge to:

– Establish a Plastic Free Task Force to engage stakeholders to enact the pledge.

– Implement a year-by-year single-use plastics reduction strategy.

– Continue to use viable alternatives and implement purchasing guidelines to eliminate the procurement of unnecessary single-use plastics in the future.

– Further invest in education, resources and infrastructure to reduce single-use plastics on individual and institutional levels.

– Increase efforts to eliminate plastic bags, plastic straws and styrofoam in accordance with the City of Atlanta’s Ordinance 19-O-1418.

“A nationally recognized sustainability leader, Emory is the first higher education institution in Georgia to make a pledge of this kind and the only active student-led campaign in the state, according to Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN),” the press release says. “The pledge reinforces Emory’s commitment to divert 95 percent of its waste from landfills by 2025, reduce Emory’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.”

Other Emory officials celebrated the decision to sign the pledge.

“We applaud the student leaders of the Plastic Free Emory Project who have done an exemplary job of presenting the pledge to senior leadership and gaining support from a broad coalition of campus stakeholders,” said Ciannat Howett, associate vice president for resilience, sustainability and economic inclusion. “We join them in celebrating this commitment by Emory to single-use plastics reduction in support of our Sustainability Vision and the City of Atlanta’s efforts.”

Students CJ O’Brien and Nithya Narayanaswamy co-founded Plastic Free Emory, the press release says.

“This pledge shows that student-led activism has the power to enact real change,” says O’Brien, who graduated this year from Emory’s Laney Graduate School with a master’s degree in development practice. “College campuses are essentially ‘living laboratories,’ where students have the unique opportunity to create sustainability projects at a small scale, that can then be translated to implement change in the real world, on a larger scale. By passing this pledge we will be joining a global movement, and we hope it will inspire even more campuses, businesses and cities in Georgia and beyond to adopt a plan to phase out unnecessary single-use plastic.”

O’Brien adds, “As young people, we know that we must take action against plastic pollution for the sake of future generations, and we cannot do it alone. We thank Emory University and President Fenves for taking this step and committing to such an important initiative in his first year of presidency.”

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