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Ohio University trials reusable takeout containers

As part of a pilot program beginning this semester, 300 Ohio University students will be outfitted with reusable takeout containers for use at campus dining halls in place of existing disposable, to-go boxes.

According to an official university release, students participating in the pilot will have the option to use the new green containers at three of Ohio’s dining facilities. The reusable containers are intended to reduce the number of disposable boxes sent to the landfill each year.

The Preserve 2 Go reusable containers are made by namesake company, Preserve, with each box measuring 9 x 9 x 3 inches. The boxes are dishwasher and microwave safe and feature three divided compartments.

Beginning this semester, students with Traditional or Flex Meal Plans may choose to participate in the pilot. The results of the pilot will help determine if the reusable to-go box program is worthy of full implementation at Ohio’s dining halls in the future.

Each participant will receive a Preserve 2 Go reusable container, will use the container over the course of the spring semester, and provide feedback via two surveys.

Students choosing the new to-go option will swipe into the dining court of their choice and inform the cashier they are choosing the takeout container option. They will then enter the dining court and fill the reusable box and exit the dining court. The student may return the unwashed box, free of large food debris, to any residential dining court. At this point they may either swap it for a clean box, or receive a voucher card to be turned in the next time they want a reusable conatiner.

The idea for the program was proposed by the winners of Ohio University’s 2017 Eco Challenge Competition, and was presented to the university’s Culinary Services Development Committee and Student Senate as a way to reduce waste and save money.

Reusable takeout containers have become an increasingly popular green initiative in campus dining. In 2013, Preserve partnered with the Rhode-Island based OZZI, to use the company’s kiosk hardware to complete the reusable to-go system.

OZZI’s system for collecting reusable containers adds an element of accountability to campus-wide programs by enabling students to deposit their containers in OZZI machines in exchange for a credit on their student ID card. That credit can then be put toward a new takeout container the next time they reach the dining hall register. Containers are then manually removed from the OZZI machine and are properly sanitized by dining hall staff for the next use.

There is no word yet on whether Ohio has deployed OZZI kiosks as part of its pilot program, but the Preserve 2 Go containers have been designed for complete compatibility with the OZZI collection system.

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