By Benjamin Engle
Union College Dining Services in conjunction with Student Forum, Environmental Club, and Ozone House is planning to introduce a reusable box for takeout from West and Upperclass Dining Halls by the end of the winter term.
During this past fall term, Dining Services initiated a take-out program for students who preferred not to eat their meals at the dining halls. Currently, the program utilizes biodegradable boxes; however, with the help of Student Forum and environmental groups on campus, these new reusable boxes will soon be in service. According to Interim Director of Dining Services, Callie Stacey, Dining Services has found a container and is currently testing it.
Before the new boxes can be used, Dining Services must test the product to ensure that it can handle conditions such as multiple washing cycles and daily student usage. Upperclass Dining currently goes through approximately 1600 boxes a week compared to the approximate 1000 boxes West College uses in the same time span. Dining Services is planning on continuing to use disposable or biodegradable plastic silverware since the dining halls have experienced problems with stolen silverware.
“We want to choose the best product for this project before we implement it,” Stacey added.
Additionally, a box return system must be created before the new boxes are introduced. Stacey believes that students might have to give a deposit to receive a box or have a token exchange system.
The new reusable boxes will be purchased through the Buffalo Hotel Supply Company and depending on the model chosen, will cost approximately $4-5. Dining Services believes that the take out program will be a positive addition to campus, even though it is an extra expense.
“While [the new boxes are] a considerable amount of money, it is not about money, it is about the waste,” Stacey said.
In addition to decreasing the amount of waste created, the take-out program creates much needed seating in the dining halls, especially during common lunch hour. Even though Stacey believes that Dutch Hollow sales have decreased since the start of the takeout program, Dining Services is not losing profits since both eateries fall under the umbrella of Union College Dining Services.
The new initiative to utilize these boxes has also received support from Student Forum, which is currently considering funding
the program. According to Student Forum President Andrew Churchill ‘11, the Forum supported the plan 18-0-1, with 18 members in support and one abstaining.
[pullquote]“A shift to reusable containers will reduce waste and educate the student body about sustainability efforts on campus.”Andrew Churchill ‘11, Student Forum President[/pullquote]
“Student Forum overwhelmingly supports the shift to reusable containers to both transition to a more sustainable to-go practice and to save money on the purchase of throw-away containers,” Churchill said.
So far, the Student Forum has received positive feedback from the general student body; yet, both understand that many students are concerned about the operation of the new system.
“[Student Forum] recognize[s] that some students believe the new system to further complicate the to-go process,” Churchill said. “We hope that through a major promotion and educational campaign we will be able to demonstrate the importance of the shift. A shift to reusable containers will reduce waste and educate the student body about sustainability efforts on campus.”
‘I personally think that this is an important project for the campus because as signatories of the [American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment], we need to hold up our commitment to sustainability and a carbon neutral future,” said Meghan Haley Quigley ‘11, who is heavily involved with this project.
“With that said, this is an opportunity for students to make an active choice to choose to create less waste. And I really do hope that the student body sees this as more than an inconvenience but another way that Union is trying to make its operations less wasteful.”