In 2019, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology bought more than 2.3 million disposable cups, almost one million disposable teaspoons, and hundreds of thousands of other single-use items. Disposable utensils currently account for approximately 9% of waste on campus.

On October 1, 2021, the Technion will stop buying disposable utensils, eliminating that source of waste altogether.

The move is being led by the Technion’s Sustainability Hub under the academic guidance of Professor Daniel Orenstein, who has authored important research on the issue of sustainability at universities, and the Hub’s coordinator, Dr. Ronit Cohen Seffer. Before making this decision, the Technion carefully studied the potential impacts, as well as the more environmentally friendly alternatives that could be used in place of disposable utensils.

“Our view of sustainability and material consumption is holistic, and encompasses all potential responses: reduce, reuse and recycle,” said Prof. Orenstein. “There is no doubt that recycling is important, but reuse and reduction are especially important goals because they prevent pollution already in the production phase.” Producing disposable utensils emits toxic substances and greenhouse gases. The transportation of disposable goods is also the source of a great deal of pollution.

“This is a comprehensive move and its implications are far-reaching,” said Technion Executive Vice President and Director General Professor Boaz Golany. “Our handling of these issues integrates research, teachings, and practices, which means that we will be placing special emphasis on promoting additional science-based steps that have the potential to bring about dramatic positive change.”

The Technion’s Strategic Plan of 2016 and the Technion Comptroller’s Report of 2019 laid out a vision for a more sustainable campus. The Sustainability Hub plans to identify even more science-based steps the campus can take to bring about dramatic, positive change.

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Daniel Orenstein
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Daniel Orenstein