Tufts Dining reimplemented its reusable take-out container program on November 1, which had first been spear in 2019 in the Carmichael and Dewick-MacPhie food centers , and discontinued Dining2GO due to low attendance. BThese programs allow students to eat outside of mess halls while reducing food waste, said Patti Klos, director of food and business services.
“The Reusable Take-Out Container Program allows a student to self-select which items are placed in the green boxes.” Klos wrote in an email to The Daily. “Most of the things available on the ward (with the exception of soup and very liquid items) can easily be placed in these take-out containers. “
Tufts Dining, with the Office of Sustainability and EcoReps, promoted reusable containers as a pre-COVID-19 catering option. Dining2GO was set up during the pandemic to accommodate COVID-19 regulationsbecause students were prohibited from dining indoors for much of the year.
“The take-out reusable container program was introduced in the fall of 2019 with great success”, Klos said. “We weren’t able to offer this service last year, but now that our COVID-19 response allows us to reintroduce more typical types of services, including not having to maintain social distances, it was logic to reintroduce them at this time. “
First-year Connie Yu said she hasn’t used the take-out containers yet, but has seen her friends use them when they want a quick meal.
The decision to restart this program was made by Tufts Dining. EcoReps has helped reimplement take-out containers in dining rooms, Klos said.
“The Office of Sustainable Development and EcoReps have been excellent collaborators with us, and we knew we could extend the reach of our message by working with them on the relaunch of this program,” Klos said. “EcoReps in particular were very willing to help explain how the program works and why it is important when we relaunch. “
Junior Sabrina Zhang, EcoRep, believes the integration of the program into Tufts Dining is a success.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing if it was fully integrated into the Tufts Dining system” Zhang said. “So it becomes more regular, because I think it can become a lot more permanent in a way… it’s not something like a small project that might go away at some point. ”
While the reimplementation of reusable containers creates less food and plastic waste, the reintroduction of Dining2GO has brought more single-use plastic back to campus dining halls. Nonetheless, Office of Sustainability director Tina Woolston said introducing these initiatives in tandem could actually have a more positive impact on the environment.
“So I think it’s really great that they are offering [Dining2GO] you know the problem with some kind of forcing [the reusable containers] is that it becomes more unnecessary because if the students aren’t engaged enough in the program to bring them back, then they’ll throw it away, ”Woolston said. “A sustainable item that is thrown away has a higher environmental impact because more material is used in its creation. “
With reusable containers now the only option to take out, there is no guarantee that they will return them. To try to avoid this, Tufts Dining applies a $ 5 fine for lost or unreturned carabiners and containers, Klos said.
Woolston said it would ultimately increase catering costs for students.
“It’s like a classic tragedy of the Commons”, Woolston said. “The cost of waste generation is an individual cost, but the cost of waste disposal is a shared cost… so the risk that Dining is running right now is that of people. [not returning containers] becomes a big expense. All the expenses they have are passed on to the students.
While Yu usually eats at Dewick with friends, she believes the take-out system has many advantages in terms of time and flexibility.
“I would definitely try the green take-out containers because I think they’re easier to transport … and store” Yu said. “Besides, you can return it and it doesn’t have to be very soon.” “