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November 30, 2012
Vol. 54 No. 11

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Susquehanna's, Aramark's attempt to go green falters

While the idea of being able to reduce paper waste at Susquehanna sounds great, the use of eco-shell containers has filled our trash cans rather than our recycling bins.

Any student who has ordered a meal at Benny's has been given the option of receiving their meal in an eco-shell container, a "green" alternative to the paper food trays. These environmentally friendly take-out boxes are meant to be returned to Benny's so they can be washed out and reused without harming the integrity of the box. Susquehanna's Food Service Director Robert Ginader explained that these boxes, when not used properly, are actually causing Susquehanna's environmentally-friendly status more harm than good.

"The idea was to allow students to take it with them and then bring it back and we'll wash it and it would reduce the paper intake. We have a drop-off center outside of Benny's," Ginader said.

The eco-shell container campaign began three years ago. At the time, Aramark offered them for students to buy at $4.50. With that money, the school would donate 50 cents per container to one of the local community gardens.

"However, not many people opted for them, maybe a dozen people," Ginader said. "Last year, I worked with the Students Sustainability Committee (SSC) and we talked about making them available for everybody. I was able to take some funds and put it towards purchasing enough that would make it logistic to offer them for everybody. The SSC came up with the idea of putting it on the ordering kiosk outside of Benny's," he added.

Last school year, Ginader ordered 900 eco-shell containers and ended the year with significantly less, only 300.

"Students were throwing them away. It's actually worse than throwing away the paper goods because it's a hard plastic that won't break down. So,this year I said we'll try it one more time and we started out with the three hundred. Those three hundred are gone," he said.

Ginader and his staff want to keep using this program. However, if the way students use and continue to throw away the eco-shells does not change, it could mean ending the environmentally-friendly movement at Benny's.

"We say on the kiosk 'reusable' eco-shell because we don't give them unless they are requested. I think some of it is that students get back to their dorm room and they either don't want to bring it back or they forget about it. They eventually get a buildup of them, and they just throw them away," Ginader explained.

When used properly, this program can benefit Susquehanna and the environment. Ginader and his staff originally wanted to broaden the program to other dining services on campus.

"Originally, I was hoping to expand and get it to Clyde's and Elle's, but the money I was going to invest in Clyde's and Elle's got invested back into buying more containers to replace the ones in Benny's. If we get students to use them the right way, it would make a great impact on paper waste on this campus," Ginader said.

The Aramark and Susquehanna staff has gone as far as picking eco-shell containers out of the trash and returning them to Benny's.

Ginader said: "I don't want to continue to waste resources. The idea was to help the environment, not make it worse."

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