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Going green, saving green

Campus cards power reusable container systems in campus dining

For those users who received the final credit, the program ended up costing nothing. It actually saved the user money over time by not charging the previous $0.50 per-meal takeout surcharge that the university assessed to cover the cost of take-out containers. Later, the university made refinements and launched what it calls “OZZI v2.0.”

With v2.0, the university eliminated the $5.00 deposit at the point of sale when checking out a container. Users can check out up to three containers at a time and are sent periodic email reminders to return them. A $5.00 fee is assessed to users meal plan accounts for any containers not returned within 72 hours.

As for checkout, dining hall cashiers identify whether a student has an OZZI container and asks which form of payment the student wishes to use. If the student opts for campus card, the system will automatically track the container and no fee is charged. Even if they choose to pay for the meal and container with cash or a credit or debit card, they must still present their CatCard for container tracking purposes.

OZZI at Virginia Tech

OZZI has been thriving on campus at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg since the fall of 2014.

“We first heard about OZZI through NACUFS and a visit to the University ofMaryland,” says Bill Hess, Associate Director, Virginia Tech Dining Services. “Dining Services was the lead department on the project with assistance from the Green RFP student submission process, which is run by the Office of Sustainability at Virginia Tech.”

Virginia tech first trialed OZZI in 2014, and has since expanded its deployment. “In the first year the program was only available in one dining center so it wasn’t convenient for students if they were not a frequent user of that location,” Hess explains. “We currently have three operational OZZI units in our three busiest dining centers, and there’s a fourth on the way.”

Following the successful trial period, Virginia Tech doubled down on the program in 2015, in part, with funding from the university’s student government association and Housing and Resident Life, Hess says.

“In 2015 the program saw a green container in every on-campus resident’s room, one for each resident,” he adds. “While successful in driving the program forward, we only saw a return rate of about 40% on the initial 10,000 distributed containers.”

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