What is it?
We’ve all heard the saying “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, and that is exactly what Food Services is trying to accomplish through the eco-container program. The eco-container program is currently a pilot project at the newest residence building, Claudette Millar Hall.
What are eco-containers you ask? Well, simply put, eco-containers are a to-go container that is reusable. These containers can make a huge difference in reducing the amount of waste on campus. The eco-containers are one of Food Services initiatives to reduce waste going to landfill and lower our carbon footprint.
Why and how to get started with Eco-Containers?
The initial idea was to make dining convenient while being environmentally friendly. From there we began a lot of research to see what has worked and what hasn’t worked for other educational institutions. We really want this program to have a real shot at success. The idea of the program is to reduce waste and to provide students with the tools to put this into practice.
To participate in the eco-container program, students purchase their initial eco-container for a $5.00 fee. When students return their eco-container, they drop it off at the cash register and in return, receive a caribineer. Students then exchange that caribineer for a clean eco-container to use. Each time they use an eco-container they received a 20-cent discount.
So far, we have 341 eco-containers being used. They have been refilled 8,569 times. From those numbers, the eco-containers have kept 8,569 disposable containers from ending up in the landfill. That is a great start but we want to keep building on this progress. We really need students to jump on board and embrace this project.
We are thrilled that we have this pilot project in place and hope that it really takes off and we are able to expand it to other locations on-campus.
This complements other waste reduction initiatives, such as the lug-a-mug program. Staff, faculty, and students can bring in a reusable mug when purchasing a hot drink. In turn, they'll receive a 20-cent discount. Our goal for our reusable programs is to prevent disposable containers going into the garbage.
Food Services is committed to lowering its waste footprint, and we are trying to make it a part of campus life. The lug-a-mug program and the eco-container program are initiatives that Food Services are proud of and hope to see both flourish at the University of Waterloo.
This post is written by Rachel Henderson, Marketing and Customer Service Assistant with UW Food Services. For more information and updates on the reusable containers program, visit the Eco-Containers program page on the Food Services website.