The Sustainability Office and Bon Appétit are launching a pilot program that will replace disposable clamshell containers in Sayles Café with free reusable to-go containers. Andrew Farias ’21, Sustainability Assistant in the Office of Sustainability, is spearheading the program, which is branded as Green2Go.
Farias hoped that 100 students and 25 faculty and staff members would sign up to join the pilot program. As of Thursday, March 4, 100 students had signed up along with 12 faculty and staff. Signups are available online.
Dining Services Manager Katie McKenna explained how the reusable container program would function logistically. “In a perfect world, the cost of a clamshell would be added on to the cost of the food the student is purchasing,” said McKenna. “They’ll say they want the Green2Go option and that’ll be on the receipt, which the cooks will see and then put the ordered food in the reusable clamshell. When the student or faculty member brings the clamshell back, they’ll tell the cashier they’re returning it, swipe their OneCard, and the cost of the clamshell will be added back on their account.”
With proper care and cleaning, the Green2Go containers can be reused up to 300 times, which is starkly juxtaposed against the single-use waste of disposable containers. According to McKenna, “We’re going through cases of disposable containers a day. A case has 500 containers and for me, someone who tries really hard to be sustainable, it breaks my heart to see this kind of waste.”
“I’ve gotten some questions from people asking why we’re phasing out compostable containers, which are supposed to be good for the environment,” said Farias. “While compostable containers are better than something like styrofoam, they still create waste, whether we like it or not. Even compostable containers require energy and resources to create them and more energy and resources to break them down and make them into something else,” he continued.
“We want to create a culture of sustainability,” explained Farias.
“Reusable container programs truly take the passion of the students; if the students aren’t passionate, it won’t be successful,” said McKenna.
“We did a reusable coffee cup program a couple of years ago. We went through 6,000 cups in one term, and we didn’t get them back. When we did get them back, they’d been used for everything you can imagine and they were not able to be cleaned and reused. These containers need to be returned in a timely fashion,” she continued.
“In order to choose the company for the containers, I compiled a list of 35 programs and after looking at a variety, we settled on OZZI Reusable Containers, or O2Go,” said Farias. “Bon Appétit has worked with OZZI in the past and so there was already that connection between company and corporation. Bon Appétit knew that they could rely on the company in terms of cost and durability.”
The Student Project Committee (SPC) of the CSA is funding the program. They authorized $2,000 worth of funding, however, the program will not use that full amount since it only costs $1,380 in total. The Sustainability Office is ordering 300 containers.
According to Sustainability Program Coordinator Alex Miller, if the SPC had not funded the program, the Sustainability Office could have covered the cost of the pilot program using their zero waste initiatives funding.
“As offices move around in renovations and realize that they don’t want old, outdated equipment, they’ll send it to the Sustainability Office, which sells the equipment on auction sites. This money is then used for initiatives that promote zero waste,” explained Miller.
Miller encourages anyone with an idea for a zero waste initiative to pitch their idea to the Sustainability Office.