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Aramark introduces a resuable container for takeout food orders at college cafeterias this fall in a program the food service giant says can divert as many as 2 million disposables from landfills in a single school year.
The move to substitute throwaway cartons for reusable containers follows a pilot program during the past school year at Baylor University in Texas, the University of Florida, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Peace College and Salem College, which are also in North Carolina.
At Baylor, the program has reduced the use of disposable containers by 40 percent, said Aramark.
The new containers are dishwasher safe, can withstand the cleaning process in campus cafeterias and are recyclable, according to the company, which serves more than 600 colleges and universities.
A number of colleges have adopted broad programs to green their dining operations from the type and sourcing of food offered, to the way it's prepared, what it's served on, its cleanup and what happens to uneaten food.
The introduction of the containers is part of Aramark's Green Thread environmental program and dovetails the company's campaign to persuade campuses to phase out traditional cafeteria trays.
The company put the trayless program in place last year at a majority of the campuses it serves after a pilot program that included two studies on the business case for eliminating trays and the barriers to doing so.
In addition to reducing use and costs of energy, water (about a third to a half gallon per tray) and detergent, trayless programs also cut food waste. In studying 186,000 meals at 25 colleges and universities, the company found that food waste dropped as much as 30 percent per person on days when trays weren't used in cafeterias.
Aramark's programs come as an increasing number of U.S. colleges are taking up the green mantle of increased environmental responsibility. Efforts include improvements to facilities, adoption of programs ranging from recycling and composting to carless commuting and the creation of environmental education programs from the undergraduate to the graduate level.
Source: GreenBiz Staff