One of the newer trends to emerge in campus dining has been the use of reusable takeout containers in dining halls. Reusable container programs are designed to eliminate unnecessary waste tied to student use of plastic, paper or styrofoam to-go boxes.
The latest to join the trend could be Vanderbilt University where, according to a report from the Vanderbilt Hustler, the current disposable containers in dining halls are contributing to a noticeable waste problem. In an effort to boost the campus' sustainability efforts in the dining facilities, some Vanderbilt students are calling for the OZZI system and reusable containers.
The university currently only offers standard, disposable containers, and according to estimates posted by the Hustler, some 1,813,500 disposable containers and plasticware were used last year at just two of the campus' dining locations, while a third dining facility used 609,675 disposable takeaway items.
The OZZI kiosk houses the returned reusable containers, and universities can choose to leverage student ID cards to checkout and return the to-go containers. Students can return their OZZI containers at their convenience by simply feeding the to-go boxes into the OZZI kiosk. Dining staff are then left to wash, sterilize and restock the containers for the dining hall cashier to checkout to students at the till.
To start with the program, each student can be issued on OZZI credit or “token.” With that credit, students receive a to-go container, and upon returning it, are given the credit back in exchange. The process then repeats itself for every subsequent to-go container used.
According to the report, the Vanderbilt Green Fund has, do date, stumped up $150,000 to implement a wide variety of student sustainability ideas. These funds, in turn, could be used to strategically deploy two OZZI machines at campus dining halls at an estimated cost of $34,370.
The report goes on to project the break-even dates for the deployed OZZI machines to be 13 months for one location and just four months for the second dining location. Ongoing cost for maintenance and staffing requirements for the initiative is projected to reach $19,500 annually.
As the report goes on to state, however, implementing OZZI could save the university as much as $170,500 annually across both participating dining locations. Were the university to move exclusively to reusable containers, it could eliminate some 2,423,175 disposable containers and plasticware annually. A proposal has reportedly been made to the Vanderbilt Green Fund to deploy OZZI as early as next year.