At a school such as Boston University, with an undergraduate population of over 15,000 students, providing food that is both healthy and sustainable is a daunting challenge. The Dining Services Sustainability Program is a campus wide effort to reduce BU’s environmental impact through more eco-friendly food options and waste reduction.
Dining Services works together with multiple departments including Facilities, Management and Planning, Sourcing and Procurement, as well as recycling and composting companies such as Save That Stuff, in order to identify more environmentally friendly products, and more sustainable practices.
The University makes an effort to incorporate sustainability into Dining Services on a variety of fronts. For example, BU purchases many food products such as milk, fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, tofu and bread from dozens of local farms and growers. The University buys organic food products whenever economically feasible, and all eggs will be cage free by September 2012. In addition, all seafood is purchased according to guidelines set by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Marine Stewardship Council.
Besides food purchasing, Dining Services is also committed to diverting waste from landfills. For instance, in 2011, Dining Services was successful in recycling 1,208 tons of waste, and composting a total of 858 tons of food waste and organic materials.
Vegan and Fair Trade
- Vegan meal options are labeled and offered in all dining rooms throughout the day.
- Fair trade, organic and locally-roasted coffee is served at all residential dining halls, the GSU Union Food Court, Law School Café, 575 Café, Granby St. Café and Healthy Blends. Fair trade varieties are available for sale at Starbucks.
Dishware and Eco-Friendly Incentives
Dining Services is continually making efforts to eliminate all non-compostable materials, including Polystyrene. Nearly all disposable containers and utensils used across campus are made with compostable materials such as corn, potatoes, and recycled milk cartons. For instance, all catering tableware is compostable, as is all Late Nite Café tableware. Dining Services continues to work with its national brands such as Starbucks, Jamba Juice, and Einstein’s Bagels, to produce compostable tableware and reduce the amount of waste going to landfills. In addition, the GSU Food Court offers reusable dishware for those who are eating there, further reducing the amount of waste generated.
Another way Dining Services has helped reduce waste is through offering a $.25 discount for using refillable coffee mugs at all campus retail locations. A $.25 discount is also offered to students who purchase reusable to-go containers, which are available at the GSU Food Court as an alternative to disposable to-go containers.
Food Composting and Waste Diversion
91% of our dining facilities run pre-consumer compost programs.
70% of dining facilities run post-consumer compost programs.
The majority of our post-consumer food waste is generated in our residential dining facilities, which is collected for composting (5 in total). The collected food waste is brought to local industrial composting facilities and resold as a soil amendment.
During the academic year, leftover baked goods, bagels and pastries are picked up by the BU Community Service Center and distributed it to area meal programs, food pantries, and shelters.
Energy Use and Green Cleaning
In an effort to reduce energy usage, Dining Services works with both National Grid and NSTAR to conduct energy audits of our large kitchens on campus. We also purchase ENERGY STAR rated kitchen equipment when replacements are due.
In January 2009, Dining Services converted to green cleaning products. The Ecolab green cleaning system includes dish detergent, Green Seal certified glass cleaner, and all-purpose cleaner used for floors, walls, countertops, equipment, fixtures, tiles, and sinks. The products are designed to maximize operational efficiency and lower energy and water consumption without compromising effectiveness. Additionally, the products are designed with minimal packaging, further conserving resources from the beginning of the product life cycle to the end.
Sustainability Planning and Management
Dining Services formed a Sustainability Committee in 2007. The committee meets on a monthly basis and is comprised of staff from Dining Services, Facilities Management & Planning, Auxiliary Services and the Office of Sustainability.
In 2008, Dining Services hired a full-time sustainability coordinator, Sabrina Pashtan, to oversee sustainability initiatives within the dining program. The sustainability coordinator works closely with other departments on campus in order to promote efficiency and eco-friendly practices.
In 2008, Dining Services hired a full-time sustainability coordinator to oversee sustainability initiatives within the dining program.
- Partners with Save That Stuff, to recycle cardboard, plastic, glass, and aluminum containers, paper, and food waste.
- Collects food waste at a rate of 1,120 tons per year; cans; glass, plastic, and aluminum at a rate of 141 tons; and cardboard at a rate of 180,000 pounds per year.
- Cooking oil is recycled locally at the rate of 4,800 gallons per year.
- Has converted over 90% of grab n’ go products to compostable containers
- Eliminated trays in all residence dining locations in September 2008
- Sponsors a weekly farmers market form June through October outside the Student Union featuring products from area vendors.
- Purchases local products from 37 farms and 124 producers in the region
- Converted to green cleaning products in all dining locations in January 2009. The Ecolab products are designed to lower energy and water consumption without compromising effectiveness. Additionally, the products are designed with minimal packaging.
- Consults publications such as Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide for more responsible product procurement
- Partners with campus groups to promote programs and develop new initiatives
- Regularly trains key staff on recycling, composting, green cleaning products and energy and water efficiency.
- Identifies recycling and reuse vendors for used kitchen equipment
- Raises awareness among BU community on sustainability issues related to food and waste reduction.
- Audits all locations on a bi-monthly basis monthly to ensure the highest standards are being upheld.
- Donates $0.10 of every single serve milk to New England dairy farmers through Keep Local Farms.
- All catered staffed events are Zero Waste. Catering also offers a Zero Waste pickup option for drop-off orders and non-staffed events.
Projects Under Development:
- Conducting energy audits of large retail and residential kitchens on campus through NSTAR and National Grid
- Eliminating non-compostable disposable products.
- Developing a Green Catering Guide which incorporates zero-waste principles
- Developing an annual Dining Services Sustainability Report.
For more information contact Dining Services