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Reusable Cups Keep Tons of Waste Out of Landfills

At the start of the school year, residents on the Level 1-6 meal plans got a free 16 oz. reusable cup, good for hot or cold beverages. The idea was that by using these durable cups rather than compostables, students would have a smaller impact on the environment, which would also lead to a cost savings for the purchase of cups and lids. (Note, even compostable cups have to be picked up and transported, at a cost to HFS, to a composting facility.)

With two quarters of the school year in the books, so to speak, more data is available to see how the program is faring. Based on the year-to-date data, Kara Carlson—former Purchasing and Project Specialist for UW Dining and now the Facilities Specialist for Dining Maintenance and Projects—has compiled an annual estimate.

As to be expected with any long-term usage project, there has been a slowdown compared to fall quarter. But Kara notes the project is still on track to exceed the predicted savings goal. Based on the trends of the first two quarters, Kara is estimating a yearly savings of $32,674, which would be more than $5,300 above the original estimate. The savings basically come from the reduced purchase of compost cups and lids as well as a modest savings on compost pick up by Cedar Grove.

The reduced usage of compostable cups means that about 7.15 tons of materials will not have gone to the compost facility.

HFS has put together a plan to continue the program during the next school year. “The goal is to launch the same style mug, but do black instead of white, so we can separate the years,” Carlson said.

BREAKING NEWS: UW Dining wins the Bronze Award in the NACUFS 2018 Sustainability Awards contest Waste Management category. More details forthcoming. The Sustainability Awards annually recognize and honor member institutions that have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the promotion and implementation of environmental sustainability, specifically as it relates to campus dining operations.