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Dartmouth trials reusable takeout containers

Following a two-year research period, Dartmouth Dining Services has deployed “Green2Go” reusable takeout containers in its campus dining facilities. The new program replaces the previous disposable to-go containers.

As reported by student publication, The Dartmouth, the university dining services had tried various other solutions to cut back on food waste in its dining facilities including changing portion sizes and encouraging students to not overfill their plates.

Those responsible for the new Green2Go program found that some 400 to 600 containers were used each dining period. A pilot program was then launched last July with the assistance of a $1,000 grant from the Dartmouth Outing Club’s Environmental Studies Division.

Participation in the “Green2Go” program requires a one-time buy in of $4, which covers a student’s first reusable container at the university’s Class of 1953 Commons. Students can then fill the containers and take it with them.

As with similar reusable container systems, the used Green2Go containers are then dropped off at any dining location on campus. Green2Go members have the option to either exchange their used box for a clean one, or receive a carabiner that can be turned in for a to-go box at a later date.

One of the primary changes made from the pilot program, Dartmouth has chosen to issue carabiner hooks rather than use the standard Green2Go membership cards. Carabiners were chosen because they can attach to a student’s backpack, which was seen as being more convenient than a card.

The one-time investment into the program is designed to encourage students to be accountable for their takeout containers and carabiners, as losing either would require the purchase of a new one. The boxes are sold at cost, so university dining services does not turn a profit on the program.

Dartmouth Dining Services has trialled other waste prevention efforts in its dining facilities in the past. In January, the university removed individual napkin dispensers from each dining table, reducing paper waste by 30%.

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