IUM launches zero plastic initiative

The University is abuzz. “We see the cafeteria changing,” say the students. Plastic straws, cups, and coffee stirrers had all been replaced with biodegradable alternatives. “Small changes make a big difference,” says Christopher Landert and Ferdinando Zeni, Masters students in Sports Management. “It shows how easy and how quickly positive change can be made.”

Students and staff had an opportunity to share their tips in the cafeteria

In line with a global student effort to reduce waste and save the environment, the International University of Monaco has launched #Objectivezeroplastic Days. The student initiative in the cafeteria aligns with IUM’s conservation goals, and the greater goals of Prince Albert II and the Principality.

Working with Albert II Foundation, students from the Social Media and Event Management course worked on a project to create a buzz for Monaco Ocean Week. Starting with videos and images to bring social media buzz, the Zero Plastic Initiative was launched a couple of weeks ago, challenging students to visually answer how they would replace plastic in their daily lives.

#Objectivezeroplastic team judging the Instagram contest

“We know that Instagram is the most popular space for social media. We wanted to spread the idea beyond our audience,” explains Gergely Heilig, a Bachelor’s in Business Administration student who is part of the team that initiated #objectivezeroplastic. Readers can find entries on Instagram from this hashtag, which will also be shared on Monaco Ocean Week social media.

“This week, everything is eco-friendly with no negative ramifications,” says Roneé McLaughlin, MBA student and CEO of Roneé Claire Organic Skincare. A large net hangs on the cafeteria bulletin board, where students have posted how they can reduce plastic use in daily life at IUM, and information on how to reduce plastic consumption can be seen all over the room.

A net displayed in the cafeteria, with zero plastic advice from the IUM community

For the two day event in the University cafeteria, no plastic could be used, not even by beloved cafeteria owner Giovanni “Gianni” Brisci. “It is difficult to work without plastic,” he says. “The materials that replace plastic aren’t yet advanced enough.” Pointing to a wooden fork and a paper coffee cup, Mr. Brisci explains that some students were not as satisfied with the non-plastic alternatives. But if the materials improved, it would be easier to run his business without plastic, and he emphasised a need for non-plastic alternatives at a fair price.

IUM as an institution will progressively replace plastic, beginning with the cafeteria. Supporting the voice of the students and the efforts of Monaco Ocean Week, the University is working towards having a budget and the right solutions to be completely plastic free.

Dr. Vanessa Landaverde-Kastberg, Social media and communications professor, with students Gergely Heilig, Melissa Lombaard, Anais Culotto, and Anais Aziadjonou

“This is something we have to do for 2020. The objective is to have zero plastic at the University,” says Sophie Delorenzo, Director of Corporate Relations.

In September, the University will move into the new Stella building, a fresh new space with a zero plastic culture.