dining sustainability

Dining halls at Clemson University have been greatly impacted by the return of students back to campus since COVID-19. 

Clemson’s dining halls may no longer provide single-use to-go containers starting this fall, instead offering a long-anticipated reusable to-go box program.

The new program would remove all single-use containers from the two dining halls on campus, providing meal plan holders with one reusable container, token and token clip at the beginning of the semester.

As a customer is entering the dining hall, a token can be redeemed for a clean reusable container with the cashier. When finished, the emptied container can be brought to an “OZZI Machine,” which will accept it and return a token in exchange.

If a customer loses their container or token, they will have to buy back into the program.

“Students are more than welcome to bring their own container and transfer their food into the container,” explained Leah Powley, Aramark employee, at Wednesday’s Dining Advisory Board meeting. “If you don’t have a meal plan, though, you’ll have to buy in because there will be no disposables.”

Powley explained that they are working with the Tiger One Office to explore options for tying the reusable program to CUIDs, removing the need for a token and token clip.

The program is not finalized and may be delayed, given that current conditions with COVID-19 remain the same or worsen. Clemson Dining staff are also seeking feedback to improve the program through a voluntary survey.

Providing reusable containers is meant to advance the university’s sustainability initiative, which calls for eliminating the use of Styrofoam on campus.

Schilletter and McAlister Dining Halls currently provide disposable containers whenever customers want to take a meal to-go, which Aramark claims leads to the landfilling of over 100,000 single-use containers each semester.

Compostable to-go containers, which have been implemented at times in the dining halls, are a better single-use option than plastic. Because the containers are not composted on campus, though, they still end up in a landfill.

The reusable container is a BPA free plastic that is 100% recyclable, according to OZZI, the company facilitating the program. OZZI has partnered with other universities around the country to start similar programs, including Georgia State University, New York University and Virginia Tech.

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