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PA colleges cut waste with reusable cups

Reusable takeout containers have been hitting a number of campuses in the last year, cutting down on both food and disposable container waste. Now, Pennsylvania’s Misericordia University is extending the idea of disposable containers to include reusable cups as part of a sustainability initiative with Metz Culinary Management — the university’s food service provider.

Per a report from The Highlander, Metz handed out reusable cups to residential students this fall to use in lieu of the disposable cups the university had used for years. Students received their free, reusable cups during the extended take-out hours of the dining hall as a part of Metz’s T.A.S.T.E (Taking Action for a Sustainable Tomorrow Everywhere) Initiative.

At present, the sups are being exclusively used to take drinks out of the dining hall during extending dining hours when students are allowed take-out. The cups are made primarily from recycled materials to reflect the program’s values and feature a coffee mug-like design and the university’s blue and gold colors and university branding.

The initiative at Misericordia was inspired by another Metz campus client, neighboring Lebanon Valley College, which has been using reusable cups in their dining halls.

Lebanon Valley College students receive a free take out reusable cup for the school year, which are distributed by dining services. Lebanon students may bring the cups into the dining hall for take-out beverages with all meal purchases. In the event of lost or stolen cups, replacements can be purchased for $5.

At Misericordia, campus officials estimate losing 12 cases of the old disposable to-go cups each semester. To help put that in perspective, Misericordia currently enrolls a total of just over 3,100 students. In addition to cutting waste, the new reusable mugs are also expected to save the university an estimated $845 per semester. The cost of the cups was split evenly between Metz and Misericordia’s Student Activities department.

Metz plans to trial the new to-go cups at Misericordia and gauge student adoption before expanding its sustainability initiative. Metz also hopes to reduce food waste at the university with a new “Sample It” program, wherein workers will provide recyclable plastic cups and a mini plastic spoon for students to sample food before filling their plate.

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