In honor of today's Campus Sustainability Day, ARAMARK Higher Education, a world leader in providing professional services to more than 600 colleges and universities throughout North America, is working with its campus partners to incorporate Zero Waste practices into their sustainability plans. Zero Waste is the process of safely recycling all materials back into nature or the marketplace in a manner that protects human health and the environment.
"If institutions can incorporate Zero Waste practices into their sustainability efforts, they will divert a majority of the waste produced on campus away from landfills," said Chris Stemen, Senior Director of Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship, ARAMARK Higher Education. "We look forward to working with our campus partners on their sustainability plans and helping them strive towards Zero Waste."
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food waste is the number one least recycled material in the United States. Studies by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have shown that every year Americans throw away 96 billion pounds of food, which is equivalent to 3,044 pounds per second.
Several ARAMARK campus partners have already made commitments to Zero Waste practices, including: Portland State University in Oregon has announced that the dining hall on campus is committed to taking steps to reduce its contribution to food waste by aiming to be a Zero Waste facility. ARAMARK and Portland State University Dining Services are recycling all cans, glass bottles, plastic containers, cardboard boxes and paper. They are also composting all food waste (last year totaling 41.8 tons), and recycling used cooking oil for conversion into eco-friendly biodiesel.
The University of Florida has set a goal of becoming a Zero Waste institution by 2015. ARAMARK and Gator Dining Services are encouraging students, faculty and staff to sign a pledge to reduce their individual contribution to food waste generation on campus. The pledge, running during the months of October and November, gives some helpful tips on waste reduction and signatories will be eligible for prizes at the end of the campaign.
As part of the sustainability program at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, food waste from the dining hall is now composted into nutrient-rich soil that is donated to the surrounding community.
To reduce food-related waste, students at several colleges around the country, including Baylor University (Texas), University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Salem College (North Carolina), and University of Florida, are piloting reusable "to-go" containers in their dining halls. These plastic containers can be reused and sanitized at temperatures reaching 180 degrees, thereby cutting down on plastic or foamed polystyrene to-go containers.
At Elon University in North Carolina, there is a collaborative effort between students, the administration, and dining services to decrease the amount of plastic water bottles that end up in landfills. Students on meal plans received aluminum water bottles that can be filled with filtered water.
Over 250 ARAMARK campus partners have already removed trays from their residential dining locations in an effort to reduce food waste and conserve water and energy. A recent study conducted by ARAMARK found that food waste was reduced by 25 to 30 percent per person when trays were removed from dining facilities.
ARAMARK also helps campuses conduct aggressive recycling and waste minimization programs, and continues to encourage clients to participate in the College and University Recycling Council (CURC) RecycleMania, a competition challenging colleges and universities to collect recyclables over 10 weeks to raise awareness of environmental and conservation issues. In the 2008 RecycleMania competition, ARAMARK Higher Education clients accounted for almost half of the nearly 400 participating colleges.
During Campus Sustainability Day, ARAMARK Higher Education is also encouraging its campus partners to "Dim the Lights" by using compact fluorescent bulbs and unplugging lights when not in use. In addition, students are invited to "Green Your Meal," by choosing one or more featured items from the special green menus at residential locations on campus.
Through ARAMARK's environmental stewardship program, Green Thread™, ARAMARK Higher Education is committed to responsible dining and facility management practices that integrate with an overall campus plan for sustainability. ARAMARK develops and implements long-term environmental stewardship programs and policies within the pillars of sustainable food; green buildings; responsible procurement; energy and water conservation; transportation; and waste management.
Employees from ARAMARK and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) recently partnered to complete conservations service projects in nine cities across the country to celebrate 40 years of Earth Day.
ARAMARK recently expanded its partnership with the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the world's premier culinary college, to increase its culinary talent through the CIA's prestigious ProChef Certification program
On behalf of the campus community, Catholic University's president, Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., delivered a special thank you to staff members for their tireless work during recent record-breaking snowstorms.
As an attempt to expand Hopkins's sustainability initiative, Hopkins Dining is implementing the JHU Dining Food Chain Program, which hopes to educate the Hopkins community about the importance of the local Baltimore food chain.
ECU students may think of ARAMARK as the company providing dining hall food on campus, but anyone at Thursday's ARAMARK-sponsored hospitality management social can tell you the company does much more than flip burgers at Todd and West End.
Dining Services at W&M has been one of the most forward-thinking and proactive units on campus in terms of embracing and improving sustainability, partly because of the new environmentally-friendly mindset of our dining vendor, Aramark.
We're committed to protecting and improving the environment by weaving an essential Green Thread through every aspect of our business.
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