Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium

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Ursinus College Dining Services March Update

06 Mar 2014 12:16 PM | Ron Wood

March Update for Ursinus College Dining Services

Conversion to Compostable service ware in Retail operations

Over the winter break we converted all of the disposable service ware for our Retail operations to compostable products including the bags to collect them.

This effort was launched out of discussions with the Office of Sustainability, Facilities and Dining Services after completing a waste diversion exercise with our ENV program classes.  Based on the data they collected we saw an opportunity to reduce the amount of trash going to landfills and the amount of product going through a recycling process and proposed moving to compostable service ware for the spring semester. The Office of Sustainability bought several new collection systems that were placed throughout the Retail operation.  Students volunteered to help with sorting instructions during meal times.

Our Resident Dining operation has been doing post consumer composting for several years and this was the next logical step in this process as we already have a relationship with a commercial composting facility.  As of January the Culinary staff is now also composting kitchen waste from food preparation trimmings and scraps.

We fully implemented these initiatives the first full week of the semester when we returned in January.

The results have been a major increase in compostables and reduction in trash and recyclables.

The cost impact has been cost neutral as we were able to eliminate several high cost plastic products in favor of compostable materials. Based on our estimates we are forecasting to save $3,000 by the end of this semester.


Week 3 Recyclemania highlights!

We've doubled our Food Service Organics from 1.07 lbs/person in 2013 to 1.99 this year!
  This does not include data from this semester. We expect this number to skyrocket at the end of the school year.

Our weekly recycling rate also increased from 29.85% in 2013 to 37.17% in 2014.

This number may edge downward as the majority of the Food Service recyclables have been replace with compostable products.


Food Recovery Challenge Progress

Our Sustainability Intern, Sarah Huang, has begun to input baseline data into the system.

We are working with our Office of Sustainability and Facilities Services to collect the data needed.  We anticipate completion by the end of March.

Real Food Challenge Progress

UCGreen Fellow Sarah and her RFC team initiated a true partnership with Sodexo by receiving copies of electronic purchasing reports. They are organizing this data and using the information to research each food product to determine whether it qualifies as real food under the categories of local, ecologically sustainable, humane, and fair labor.

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