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Penn State to revitalize to-go container program

After ending its Green2Go container program nearly a year ago, Penn State is set to revitalize its reusable to-go container program with new refinements and a new name. The new “PSreUse” program will use the same green plastic to-go containers with an “updated logistical flow” to make the initiative more convenient and accessible for students.

According to an Onward State report, PSreUse’s most significant difference is that the containers are free to use upon return, removing the previous $5 deposit required for students to opt in. Students will still need to pay replacement fees for unreturned or damaged containers at the end of each semester.

Anyone with a valid Penn State ID can use the PSreUse program. The program accepts payments through campus and commuter meal plans or Penn State’s declining balance tender, LionCash.

For students, using the new PSreUse reusable container program will feel familiar to the previous Green2Go program. Dining hall guests can request a reusable container at any dining hall cashier with the swipe of their student ID card. The takeout containers can then be returned to any dining hall or campus convenience store cashier. Containers don’t need to be returned to the same location from which they were checked out.

Also new with PSreUse is that the containers will be barcoded to help track the containers individually. Once the system is up and running, the barcodes will enable specific containers to be tied to specific student ID cards, allowing for returns without the need of swiping ID cards.

The barcode system being developed would give Penn State more specific data on the containers, including the length of time each container has been checked out. Upgraded barcoding will also help Penn State staff refine the program to better meet student usage and container lifecycles.

“In a typical year, we use about 500,000 styrofoam containers. Each reusable container can be used and washed up to 1,000 times; that can replace a lot of styrofoam,” said Anna Sostarecz, Penn State Food Services sustainability coordinator, in a statement to Onward State. “Ideally, with enough student support and participation in the program, we can move toward eliminating single-use packaging options that contaminate recycling streams and crowd the landfill.”

Penn State plans to expand the new PSreUse program to all on-campus dining halls in time for the start of the fall semester.

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