ARAMARK Working With Campus Partners to Become Zero Waste Institutions
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(TM), 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.
About ARAMARK Higher Education
ARAMARK Higher Education is dedicated to excellence in dining, facility, conference center, and stadium and arena services. ARAMARK enhances the living and learning experience and environment for more than 600 colleges and universities throughout North America. For more information and a list of our services, visit www.aramarkhighered.com.
ARAMARK is a leader in professional services, providing award-winning food services, facilities management, and uniform and career apparel to health care institutions, universities and school districts, stadiums and arenas, and businesses around the world. In FORTUNE magazine’s 2008 list of “America’s Most Admired Companies,” ARAMARK was ranked number one in its industry, consistently ranking since 1998 as one of the top three most admired companies in its industry as evaluated by peers and analysts. ARAMARK also ranked first in its industry in the 2007 FORTUNE 500 survey. ARAMARK seeks to responsibly address issues that matter to its clients, customers, employees and communities by focusing on employee advocacy, environmental stewardship, health and wellness, and community involvement. Headquartered in Philadelphia, ARAMARK has approximately 250,000 employees serving clients in 19 countries. Learn more at the company’s Web site, www.aramark.com.