Re: [GRRN] Fw: sustainable contatiner information

Roger M. Guttentag (
Mon, 01 Nov 1999 09:41:01 -0500

Dear Mariah:

I would urge you to understand as much as possible the business context in
which the switch to disposables occurred. For example, I assume that there
is a service contract between the university and the company. Is there
anything in the terms of of this agreement that may be causing a tilt in
favor of disposables? For example (and I mean this in a totally
hpothetical sense since I have no knowledge of the contract terms), in
order to hold this service contract does the current company have to
operate within a narrower profit margin than its predecessor?

Once you gain a better understanding of the business environment in which
this issue is to be discussed, there are two possible outcomes:

(1)An environmentally preferrable alternative to disposables is available
and is compatible with or superior to the economics of the current
situation (the no-brainer outcome); or

(2) There is an environmentally preferrable alternative to disposables but
it is more costly (for whatever reason) but it can be implemented if the
cost differential can be covered. This may require a very modest increase
in pricing, a reduction in fees that the university may be getting from the
contractor or possibly another very creative approach that suggests itself
through this dialogue.

In short, I am suggesting that the discussion should not be framed as
disposables vs. non-disposables confrontation but rather how an
environmentally preferable food services operations can be established on a
sustainable business foundation that can be replicated at other universities.


Roger M. Guttentag
At 04:42 PM 10/30/1999 -0400, Bill Sheehan wrote:
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Mariah N. Myers <>
>To: <>; <>; <>
>Sent: Saturday, October 30, 1999 1:58 PM
>Subject: sustainable contatiner information
>Hi. My name is Mariah Myers and I am a student at the University of
>Arkansas. I am the president of the Sierra Student Coaltion at the
>University and we are currently working on a campaign to change the
>containers used in our student union.
>Last year a new company took over the food services on our campus and
>expanded our student union. Previously in the Union food servery, reusable
>dishware was used, but since the renovation, the new company is using all
>disposables. Plastic plate and forks, paper cups, Styrofoam cups, and
>Styrofoam take-out containers. We have sent them a letter asking about
>their new policies and will be meeting with them soon to discuss
>Before meeting with them on this issue, we want to be as informed as
>possible about alternatives to disposables, what disposables are really
>the least environmentally harmful, etc.
>I was wondering if you could provide me with any information or
>talking points on these issues. I have always been told how bad Styrofoam
>is and one of my biggest complaints about the new service is their use of
>Styrofoam, but I guess I really don't know all the reasons why it is worse
>than paper products. Can you suggest any resources for us to find this
>information? I would really appreciate any suggestions that you could
>offer to our group on our campaign. Thanks so much. I look forward
>to hearing back from you.
>Mariah Myers