What if: Colleges became Tree-Free™ and Plastic-Free?®

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There are 5,300 colleges and universities in the United States, including public, private and community colleges. There is projected to be 19.9 million students enrolled in classes this fall of 2018. In college, convenience and portability are crucial. But the ability to grab a cup of iced coffee from the café or a sandwich on the go means more than just convenience. It also means garbage – a lot of garbage.



  • There are 19.9 million students attending colleges this fall 2018 (National Center for Education Statistics), individually each student creates 640 pounds of solid waste annually.
  • Annually the average student creates 320 pounds of paper waste, 141 pounds of uneaten food waste and 179 pounds of plastic waste from a study completed by Boston College.
  • Annually the 19.9 million college students enrolled this fall will generate 6.4 trillion pounds of paper waste.
  • Annually 19.9 million enrolled students will contribute 14.2 million pounds of plastic waste.
  • 500 plastic cups are disposed of by students every year according to a study by Boston College.



  • Total # of plastic cups used annually- 8,000,000,000


  • Total # of plastic cup lids annually- 8,000,000,000


  • Total # of paper towels used annually-1,260,000


  • Total # of hot cups and lids annually-5,110,000,000


Substituting harmful plastics and Tree-based paper goods for a PLA plastic-free or Tree-Free™ goods means convenience, with a lower environmental impact. In the age of convenience and disposables, every choice has an impact. Are you choosing wisely?




About Jaclyn McDuffey: Having graduated Magna Cum Laude from Fordham University where she studied psychology, McDuffey began her career in the Administrative Office of Development for Fordham Law School. Joining Emerald in 2013 was inspired by her passion to make sustainable products affordable and accessible to every consumer and business. Her natural aptitude for research and product development enabled her to quickly become the operational lead for the company, overseeing product development and manufacturing.


“We have over 20 years’ experience in developing highly sustainable alternative materials. I don’t know of any other company in our space that can say the same.  While many companies may lose their edge in innovation as they grow, we have made it the core of how we do business we’re determined to keep innovating no matter how large we get.” – Jaclyn McDuffey

Follow Jaclyn on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaclyn-mcduffey-leed-ga-3ba87539/




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