Plastic-Free UTD


Plastic-Free Vending Machine Pilot Study

A vending machine offering drinks packaged in aluminum containers.

As an extension of UTD’s commitment to sustainability, the Sustainability Committee has been working to reduce the campus’s plastic footprint. In collaboration with Auxiliary Services, a pilot study beginning in Spring 2024 is testing locations of plastic-free beverage vending machines. The previously offered plastic bottles have been converted to aluminum options.

The vending machines included in the pilot study are located on the lower level of the Student Union across from the pool tables and in the corridor outside of room 11.120 in the JSOM Building.

If you haven’t yet submitted feedback about the vending machine pilot study, and would like to do so, please fill out the survey.



Why Consider Reducing Single-Use Plastic at UTD?

A plastic bottle marring one of the University flower beds.

Plastic waste does more than contribute to local litter and tarnishing our campus landscapes: it carries significant environmental and human health costs. Single-use plastics pollute our ecosystems, degrade natural habitats, harm wildlife, and threaten human health. Studies report that 32% of single-use plastic items do not make it to a landfill or recycling facility, and instead directly flow into oceans. Out of the 33.6 million tons of plastic disposed of each year in the United States, only 8.7% is actually recycled.

As a Living Learning Laboratory, UT Dallas is a test-bed for innovative initiatives in the common interest. Phasing out single-use plastics at UTD, with a transition to reusable or alternative packaging, will position our campus as a leader and a model for transitioning our society toward more sustainable ways of thriving now and into the future.


Reducing Your Single-Use Plastic Usage

Change occurs on multiple levels, as individual action, and institutional changes both contribute to societal transformation. Beyond shifting to alternative materials for beverages, there are many ways individuals at UTD can help reduce plastic waste. Here are some ideas:

  • Use a refillable water bottle. The Office of Sustainability provides free water bottles to those in need, and students, faculty, and staff can use the water refill station locator tool to find a nearby refill station. If you’d like a free water bottle, contact
  • Bring your own, reusable bag when shopping.
  • Opt for reusable food containers instead of disposable packaging. Consider carrying your own containers when dining out, so you can bring leftovers home without collecting extra plastics.
  • Make sure you’re recycling properly. It’s not always easy to know what can and cannot be recycled, so refer to the Recycling Guide (PDF [Portable Document Format File] ) to check what can be recycled at UTD. Additionally, you can take advantage of UTD’s many special recycling streams, including plastic film recycling.



Phasing Out Single-Use Plastics at UTD (PDF [Portable Document Format File] )

Peace Out, Plastics
The Mercury, December 5, 2022

Saying No to Single-Use Plastics
The Greenhouse Blog, April 30, 2020