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A Hyperlocal Plan To Cut Back On Plastic

Creative Commons

A nonprofit organization based in Durham has drummed up a new plan to get residents excited about cutting back on plastic.

Don't Waste Durham, along with the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, has drafted a local ordinance to incentivize schools and businesses to cut down on single-use plastic waste. The measure would offer rewards for the voluntary reduction of plastics like bags and styrofoam containers, or for those who offer drinking straws by request only. The plan is now headed to Durham's Environmental Affairs Board for review.

Crystal Dreisbach, executive director of Don't Waste Durham, says those who opt in to the plastic program would receive a bronze, silver or gold certification based on their level of waste reduction. Its a model that's caught momentum in Florida and California, according to Driesbach.

"This type of program is most acceptable when it's championed by the local government. And that's why we hope the local legislators will get behind it and turn this into law."

Durham's natural spaces need help from programs like this one.

A 2017 litter survey by the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic found that plastic film was the top source of pollution in Durham's Ellerbe Creek Water Shed.

But Driesbach doesn't want the program to end at the county line. She says she hopes a voluntary local ban will pave the way to a statewide reduction in plastic pollution.

Don't Waste Durham oversees the GreenToGo reusable takeout container program.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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