Styrofoam replacement containers in the Food Emporium
Helping the environment can be done in many ways, and for students, an easy way to contribute is through the Food Emporium’s clamshell to-go containers.
“It is probably the best-kept secret here on campus,” said Food Service Administrator IV Randy Williams.
This program was started close to 10 years ago by Director of University Dining Services Geoffrey Evans. The shells are plastic to-go containers can be purchased at the cashiers’ station in the food emporium for $5 with an i-card, debit/credit card, or cash.
Once purchased and used, a dirty clamshell can be exchanged for a clean one during the business hours of the emporium. When the program began, almost 400 were sold each year, but interest has declined recently.
However, Evans said, “clamshells are always available for purchase; just ask a cashier.”
The current foam containers cost $0.15 each time they are used and create waste throughout the campus. The clamshells were meant to help lessen the load of the Styrofoam containers on campus, but this has not been the case.
Evans said, “sometimes people buy them and we never see them again.” This has also become the case with silverware, Evans said, “We also offer the non-disposable silverware,” and Williams adds that while they do this, “we’ve lost 900 just last semester.”
Evans discusses the fact that with all that has to be done to replace these forks, it is almost more environmentally friendly to use disposable silverware.
“The amount of energy it takes to make the fork, transport the fork, wash the fork, then to lose the fork and buy another, the plastic is actually more environmentally friendly.”
Evans continued, “It’s not as clear-cut as people think, particularly when people throw them away or take them home. We have to replace them; then we’re talking about, not only from an investment standpoint, but from an environmental standpoint, now they have to make more plates and transport them.”
Recycling has become an issue on campus, but perhaps particularly in the Food Emporium. Evans said, “We recycle all we can.” Food Service Executive Chef Harold Seidel said, “I think there is a lot of ignorance to what is recyclable and what isn’t.”
Evans agreed that a lack of recycling is an issue, but added, “We’ll readdress [recycling] once we move to the Student Union and try to do a better job.”