Re: Campus Waste Prevention

Tom Crowell (
Mon, 19 Apr 1999 11:51:34 -0400

Dear Greenyes:

INFORM has two reports which might be of interest to those working on campus
waste prevention issues. The first, "Getting an A at Lunch: Smart
Strategies to Reduce Waste in Campus Dining", describes simple steps to
prevent waste in campus food service operations and discusses the question
of reusable seviceware versus disposable in chapter four. The report can
be downloaded using Adobe Acrobat at (see
release below)

The second, "Making Less Garbage on Campus", takes a broader look at waste
prevention opportunities on campus, including a section on reusable

For more information on either report please visit our website at or call INFORM at (212) 361-2400.

News Release

Contact: Nevin Cohen, INFORM, Inc. (212) 361-2400

Move the Napkins and Save: New Report Lays out Strategies to Reduce Dining
Waste and Costs on Campus

New York, New York- Almost 4.5 million pounds of food waste are generated by
the nation's colleges and universities per meal. Getting an 'A' at Lunch:
Smart Strategies to Reduce Waste in Campus Dining, a new report from INFORM,
Inc., describes simple steps to prevent this waste, saving scarce dollars
and helping the environment.

"Many school cafeteria and dining service managers are coasting along with
barely passing grades," remarked Dr. Nevin Cohen, Director of Programs for
the national not-for-profit environmental research organization. "The real
stars of campus administration are using innovative techniques to cut down
on food and other types of dining waste."

These practical techniques, developed and implemented by students, faculty,
and staff, involve using products more efficiently, using less of a product,
using it longer, or using it over and over again. The report notes that,
because food services are so visible on campus, programs that successfully
incorporate these strategies into their daily operations "can serve as
models of less wasteful practices that can be replicated elsewhere on campus
and in the community."

Changing Trends in Campus Dining

In the traditional sit-down dining hall, plates and utensils are reusable
and meals are often "all-you-can-eat." In these plans, discarded food
accounts for two-thirds to three-quarters of total waste. Today, more and
more campuses are favoring fast-food and takeout-style operations, which
generate less food waste because students have to pay for what they take.
Instead, more than half the waste in takeout operations comes from packaging
and disposable plates and utensils.

Cutting Food Waste

According to a recent report from the US Dept. of Agriculture, Americans
threw out more than a quarter of all the food produced for human consumption
in 1995. INFORM's report identifies strategies to reduce three categories
of food waste on campus: food preparation waste, food prepared but not
served, and food taken but not eaten. At some schools, strategies such as
using leftover ingredients from one recipe in another, preparing small
batches of food throughout the meal, and using smaller plates have been
successful in reducing this waste.

Cutting Food-related Waste

The average student uses 500 disposable cups a year, according to one
estimate. By offering a 25- to 30-cent discount on refills in reusable mugs,
the University of Wyoming decreased purchasing costs by $950 and waste by
185 pounds in six months. Much of the remaining nonfood waste generated on
campus consists of disposable trays, plates, utensils, napkins, and
packaging. At Florida Atlantic University, placing napkin dispensers on
tables instead of on the cafeteria line reduced napkin consumption by 400
cases a year and saved $6000 in purchasing costs.

Advancing Waste Prevention in Campus Dining

An effective waste prevention program requires involvement by all the
stakeholders in a school's food service operations:

Students can raise awareness among their peers and help food services to
incorporate environmental goals into their operations.

Food service directors can work with staff and vendors to encourage
efficient materials use and implement specific measures.

Trade associations such as the National Association of College and
University Food Services (NACUFS) and the National Association of College
Auxiliary Services (NACAS) can promote best practices and help publicize
successful strategies.

"College and university campuses should be places of learning and growth,
not waste," observes Joanna Underwood, president of INFORM. "By setting an
example of good practices, food service operators and students alike can
serve as models of environmental stewardship, decreasing the impacts of
their own activities and helping to reduce a significant portion of the
nation's waste stream."

# # #

INFORM is a national non-profit organization that identifies practical ways
of living and doing business that are environmentally sustainable. For more
information or to obtain a copy of the report contact INFORM, Inc. 120 Wall
St., New York, NY 10005 Phone: 212 361-2400 Fax: 212 361-2412 Web:

Thomas Crowell
Development Associate
120 Wall Street
New York, NY 10005
Fax: (212)361-2412