TDR’s reusable takeout container program diverts waste and provides convenience for students

One month in to the program, students continue to use containers, appreciating the environmental benefits

TDR’s reusable takeout container program diverts waste and provides convenience for students

Dining staff provides takeout containers as students swipe in to TDR

TDR is now providing students reusable takeout containers as a more sustainable alternative to the single use boxes previously offered for to-go meals. 

Students have the option of receiving takeout containers while swiping in at TDR; the cost of a takeout container is included in the meal plan. Students without a meal plan must initially pay $7.99 for a container, but they are credited for this cost if they bring the container back to TDR. 

The takeout container program was launched in late August through the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment and Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Ditch The Disposables Award Program and in partnership with OZZI, a sustainability organization that provides reusable containers for college campus kitchens and other facets of the food industry. The program is anticipated to divert more than 2,500 pounds of plastic waste, according to the Office of Sustainability’s announcement post on Instagram. 

The program has been in operation for over a month. Students showed enthusiasm for the sustainability of using reusable containers, as well as the convenience of being able to eat TDR meals to-go. 

Emma Kirby, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, said that while she appreciates the sustainability aspect of the to-go containers, the main reason she uses the program is because she does not always want to eat in TDR. 

“If my friends are getting other food, I don’t want to sit down and eat in TDR,” Kirby said. 

Kirby said she used the single-use take-out containers last year, so she believes it is a good idea to make the containers reusable. One complaint she had was about the system of having to return your container and collect a new one before each meal. 

“I just think you should be able to keep your own,” Kirby said. 

Aleksandra Borycki, a sophomore in the School of International Service, said that the sustainability of the containers didn’t necessarily impact her decision. 

“I have homework to do. I have to eat. That’s the only reason I got the to-go box,” she said.

Regardless of the reasoning behind using the reusable takeout containers, the first month of the program has brought many students to participate. According to the Office of Sustainability, students used almost 1,000 containers in the first four days. 

The implementation of reusable takeout containers aligns with the goals of American University’s 2021 Sustainability Plan. Goal number 11 includes achieving zero-waste by 2030, eliminating single-use plastic on campus, decreasing overall campus waste and pursuing more zero-waste goals. 

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