EMMA KNIGHT / THE EAGLE
Styrofoam used at privately-owned eateries on campus conflicts with AU’s sustainability efforts. However, the lease agreement between the University and these restaurants do not require them to use eco-friendly materials.
Asian Flavors, which uses Styrofoam containers, is one of these leased locations. Tom Gera independently operates the restaurant.
Megabytes, Asian Flavors, Mud Box, American Café and the Katzen Café are privately owned by Gera. The lease between these restaurants and AU requires Gera to adhere to federal laws and regulations, contract manager for Auxiliary Services Juanita Edwards said in an email.
AU adopted its Sustainable Purchasing Policy in 2010, which encourages the use of recyclable and re-usable products by the University, Sustainability Outreach Coordinator Joshua Kaplan said in an email.
“Styrofoam is the worst [packaging] option because generally there is nothing to do with the container after a single use except send it to a landfill, where it will stay for decades, if not centuries,” Kaplan said.
Styrofoam is not accepted for recycling in D.C., he said.
Gera said he had not been approached by AU, the Office of Sustainability or students about his use of Styrofoam as of Oct. 9.
Gera said his eateries were the first to use biodegradable containers and utensils four years ago. However, he switched to Styrofoam containers because they are cheaper than the biodegradable boxes he previously used.
“I found most of the time people did not care,” he said.
Gera said he is open to hearing students’ concerns and may consider switching back to biodegradable options.
Bon Appétit cannot use Styrofoam because it is required to follow AU’s sustainability standards, Edwards said.
Eateries owned by Bon Appétit include TDR, Tenley Café, Einstein Bagels, Greens, Pronto, Eagle Express, Salsa, Tavern and Eagle’s Nest.
Bon Appétit ’s 2001 sustainability policy prohibits the company from purchasing Styrofoam items, Derek Nottingham, resident district manager for Bon Appétit , said in an email.
Bon Appétit bought pre-packaged ice cream in styrene cups once this semester, Yvonne Matteson, district manager for Bon Appétit said. Styrene is a product similar to Styrofoam that can be recycled and has only minor environmental effects, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Bon Appétit occasionally buys prepackaged ice cream, Michelle Mooney, AU’s general manager of Bon Appétit , said in an email.
No sign was posted saying the cups were styrene and could be recycled, Matteson said.