UCLA Fraternity Closes the Loop with Compostable Cups

Fraternity brothers at the UCLA Cal Delta Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon have taken yet another step toward greening their house by establishing partnerhips with local vendors Repurpose Compostables and Waste Less Living, Inc. While the brothers have already undertaken several sustainability initiatives, including installing a water filtration system to reduce water bottle use, they now seek to tackle a primary waste product found in many Greek campus houses: disposable cups. The traditional plastic cup, made mostly from petroleum, does not biodegrade and often finds its way to landfills due to low recycling rates in the US. As a primary product used in the fraternity social scene, plastic cups can add up to a large amount of waste every year. This winter, the brothers of Sigma Alpha Epsilon took it upon themselves to find a solution that benefits the environment, the fraternity, and local businesses, as well. The answer? A novel partnership using only plant-based materials and regular pickup for composting that aims to close the loop on a disposable cup's lifecycle. The new cups are reported to consume 3-4 times less CO2 than to create plastic versions and can be industrially composted in 90 days.

The following is an excerpt from Repurpose Compostable's press release earlier this year highlighting the new partnership:

In an effort to make a difference, Repurpose Compostables along with UCLA’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity have partnered with Waste Less Living, Inc., a leader in zero-waste management and sustainability planning, to recover and compost Repurpose’s plant-based cups as part of the new pilot program.

The SAE house will be outfitted with custom Repurpose Cup Collection Bins that will outline the benefits of composting and the fraternity’s effort to go green. The SAE members will then collect the cups and bring them to Waste Less Living for inspection of contaminants, handling and shipping to its preferred composting facility– hence, completing the ideal “life cycle” of Repurpose cups and returning it back to the earth.

“If we can get the younger generation to understand that plant-based products are better for them and for the environment we create a generation that will continue to demand greener alternatives in the future,” said Repurpose CEO Lauren Gropper. “These fraternity houses have a need for disposables like most consumers, Repurpose is here to offer a better solution to that need.”

For many universities the Greek system is the central point of socialization for the students; at UCLA alone over 1,000,000 plastic cups are used by the Fraternities and Sororities each year. Very few of these houses have recycling programs in place and moreover most of the traditional cups used are not even recyclable at many facilities. This equates to millions of cups ending up in landfills where they will exist for thousands of years.

“The UCLA Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon is very excited about the partnership with Repurpose Compostables. Switching to plant based cups is such an easy way for us to lower our carbon footprint,” explains SAE Chapter President Tyler Mclean. “Our hope is that the entire UCLA Greek system will jump on board! This is our planet and we need to take care of it."

For further inquiries, please check out Sigma Alpha Epsilon's website to contact a representative.