Baylor University

Eco-friendly Dining Changes

Aug. 26, 2008

Two changes being introduced in Baylor dining facilities this fall will reduce waste and assist campus environmental efforts.

Baylor dining facility customers are no longer being offered trays on which to carry their food selections unless they specifically request them. The change is designed to cut down on waste.

"Last spring we weighed the food left behind on returned trays to track the amount wasted in our residential restaurants," said Brett Perlowski, director of Baylor Dining Services. "During a single meal period at all four dining facilities the discarded food was weighed, and the results were staggering -- 1,525 pounds wasted. When we did the same measurement the next week when trays weren't used, the amount of waste dropped to 833 pounds. That's a 55 percent decrease that could save almost 162,000 pounds of food each semester."

Eliminating trays should also provide a positive environmental payoff.

"In order to decrease our campus carbon footprint, we will reduce landfill waste, decrease energy and water use for food production, reduce vendor truck deliveries and cut down on the amount of electricity, water and chemicals used to wash the trays," Perlowski said. "This change will enable Baylor to move towards 'carbon neutrality' on campus."

A second change this fall involves starting to phase out the use of disposable foam containers to "take out" food purchases for off-site consumption. Last year, patrons used more than 400,000 such containers.

"We want to be good stewards of the environment, as well as respond to the many comments we received from patrons about the wasteful use of foam containers," said Chris Krause, assistant vice president for campus services. "As a result, we've purchased 1,500 'Eco Clamshell' to-go boxes imprinted with Baylor logos."

The reusable to-go boxes are available to all meal plan students on a voluntary basis. Cash and credit card customers can purchase a new or replacement container for five dollars. Faculty and staff may receive one free container per school year.

"This is essentially an exchange program. When you bring back your used container, we'll give you a clean, sanitized container in its place," Krause said. "We hope to reduce foam use this fall by 30 percent and eliminate it completely in Baylor dining halls by fall 2009."

As a part of the change, Baylor Dining Services will also begin using paper cold beverage cups and soup cups.

"We currently use recycled plastic utensils, and will continue their use along with our napkins made from recycled materials," Krause added.

Eco Clamshells are being rolled out at Penland, Collins and Memorial dining halls, while Brooks Dining Hall will continue as a dine-in-only facility.

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(The dining changes being made by Baylor are part of a growing national trend on campus. For a look at how other universities are making similar changes, go here).

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