Thursday, June 25, 2009

PSU Dining Aims for a Zero Waste Dining Hall

(originally posted 10/08 at wordpress)


Source: Laura Weiss (503-984-8539)
Regional Sustainability Manager, ARAMARK Higher Education
Author: Office of University Communications, 503-725-3711

As Campus Sustainability Day is celebrated on October 22, Portland State University Dining, in partnership with its food service provider, ARAMARK, is proud to announce that the dining hall, known as Victor's in Ondine Hall on Sixth Avenue, is taking steps to reduce its contribution to solid waste by aiming to be a "zero waste facility."

By following rigorous recycling practices, composting all food waste and taking steps to eliminate unnecessary packaging, PSU Dining will be diverting the majority of its waste produced by the dining hall operations from the landfill. Zero waste practices at the dining hall include the following methods:

* Recycling all cans, glass bottles, plastic containers, cardboard boxes and paper.
* Setting up a new system to recycle all plastic wrap & films.
* Recycling used cooking oil. This year, PSU Dining will be setting up a new partnership with an Oregon biodiesel producer to ensure that all used cooking oil will be converted to fuel, preventing roughly 12,000 lbs of fossil carbon dioxide from entering Earth's atmosphere every year.
* Composting all food waste and napkins. Last year Ondine dining hall composted 41.8 tons of food waste.
* Using bulk containers for condiments, avoiding individual packaging as much as possible.

Food waste is the least recycled material in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, Americans throw away 96 billion pounds of food each year, equivalent to 3,044 pounds per second.

Sending that food waste to a landfill causes environmental pollution. When food waste decomposes in a landfill, it produces methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas that is far more heat-trapping than carbon dioxide. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, landfills account for approximately 23% of total human-made methane emissions, the second largest contribution of any methane source in the United States.

"By adhering to these zero waste practices, we can further reduce and ultimately eliminate all trash at the PSU dining hall," said Laura Weiss, ARAMARK's Regional Sustainability Manager. "It will take some time to fully divert all waste from the landfill but, given how much trash we're already diverting, we are well on our way to achieving the goal of zero waste in the future."

"We look forward to working with PSU Dining to assess new opportunities to move toward zero waste," said Noelle Studer-Spevak, PSU Sustainability Coordinator. "When ARAMARK employees in Ondine take bold steps, it can inspire the whole campus to reduce waste. This kind of effort demonstrates how green is more than our school color- it's our school spirit!"

PSU Dining has already removed trays from the dining hall, reducing its energy and water consumption. "Going trayless" also helps to reduces overall food waste. In a recent study by ARAMARK Higher Education, food waste was reduced by 1.2 to 1.8 ounces per person per meal when trays were removed from dining facilities. This represents a 25 to 30 percent reduction in food waste per person. Eliminating trays also saves the water and energy that would be needed to wash the trays.

Portland State University
Portland State University (PSU) serves as a center of opportunity for more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Located in Portland, Oregon, one of the nation's most livable cities, the University's innovative approach to education combines academic rigor in the classroom with field-based experiences through internships and classroom projects with community partners. The University's 47-acre downtown campus exhibits Portland State's commitment to sustainability with green buildings, while many of the 120 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees incorporate sustainability into the curriculum. PSU's motto, "Let Knowledge Serve the City," inspires the teaching and research of an accomplished faculty whose work and students span the globe.

No comments:

Post a Comment