A growing number of university food service operations are turning to reusable takeout containers in dining halls to cut waste. The trend's latest participant is Oregon State with its new "Eco2Go" program.
Per a report from the Daily Barometer, Oregon State's Housing and Dining Services introduced the new reusable containers to reduce waste from dining halls by replacing all paper to-go containers with bright orange reusable plastic boxes. Campus restaurants run by Housing and Dining Services will provide the reusable to-go containers in each of the campus' dining centers. Eco2go has thus far received positive feedback since the program's launch this semester.
The Eco2Go boxes are given out when guests at university dining halls request the to-go option. the reusable containers can then be returned by students to any of the other campus dining halls, residence halls or any of the five other specified locations on Oregon State's campus.
This semester marked a bit of a revamp for the program, which was previously a buy-in program with a discount incentive. The university has a dedicated Eco2Go webpage detailing all the pertinent info about the program as well as where students can return their containers.
University officials hope that by making the reusable boxes the only to-go option students will inspire their peers to participate in the program, as well. The reusable containers have replaced the some 600,000 disposable paper boxes typically purchased by Oregon State University Housing and Dining Services.
“There is a huge return rate,"says Chris Anderson, head of the Eco2Go program and assistant manager of Marketplace West, one of Oregon State's dining centers. "I’ve even heard stories about students finding them around campus and working together to bring them back to a return area.”
Future plans involve involving more students by sending out emails to encourage suggestions of where to install future drop boxes, as well as feedback on how the program can be improved.
While the reusable nature of the containers may be a concern fro some, the cleaning of the boxes is the top priority. Containers are collected from deposit stations throughout the week, sanitized and separated on racks to dry before being used again.
The Eco2go program will continue growing the number of reusable containers with another shipment to be distributed later this year.