After studying the impact of trayless dining, UGA Food Services took a big step to reduce waste by removing trays from their five dining commons. The department worked with the UGA Office of Sustainability to collect data during a two-week test period. Snelling Dining Commons was set as the control. During the test’s first week, trays were provided in Snelling as normal. The plate waste that came through the tray return was measured by volume and weight. During the second week, trays were removed from Snelling and the same measurements were obtained. The water meter was also monitored to see how water usage would be affected with no trays to wash. The results showed a 26.7 percent reduction in plate waste and a 16.4 percent reduction in water usage during the week without trays. Some of the many benefits of trayless dining include reducing waste, conserving water, and saving energy.
Food Services recently reached its goal of eliminating all non-compostable items from the dining commons. This was done by switching from non-biodegradeable products like individual condiment packets, tea bags with paper tags attached by metal staple, and plastic straws to more sustainable options like reusable bulk condiment stations, 100% silk tea bags, and bio-degradeable paper straws. What this means is that now 100% of food waste in the dining commons is being pulped and sent to the Bioconversion center where it is composted and reused on campus.
Commitment to Sustainability
UGA Food Services takes environmental sustainability very seriously and advocates the concepts of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in all campus food services operations. Food Services has been a long time campus advocate of these concepts. Food Services was recognized with the 2003 Community Champion award for its support feeding the homeless in the community. Some of our other initiatives are:
- Our dining commons use trash pulper systems to drastically reduce the volume of paper and food waste sent to local landfills. The use of these systems also dramatically reduces water usage in trash disposal systems
- We consolidate the majority of our deliveries to a central food storage facility, which reduces delivery truck traffic on campus
- Napkins are placed on tables instead of at silverware stations. Since implementing this practice we estimate napkin consumption on campus has reduced by 50%
- We purchase products with minimum packing (ex. pouched vs. canned products)
- Installing timers on lighting
- Specifying energy efficient replacement equipment
- Use of energy efficient lighting
- Use of electric hand dryers in lieu of paper towels in public restrooms
- Reduction of water use - Example: We have annually reduced water use at Snelling Dining Commons by 38.9%
- Reduction of plastic waste in the community with "Hydration Stations" for refilling water bottles
- Food Services reduced its water usage in 2008 by 2.05 million gallons of water through conservation efforts. Since then, we have maintained this sustainable practice
- Food Services promotes sustainability by purchasing regional produce and food products when available
- Our dining commons use permanent dishes, glassware, and flatware, eliminating the need for disposable products
- Our customers can purchase a reusable "Big Swig" mug at any of our retail locations. Refills are discounted to encourage our customers to utilize this program.
- Food Services is also a major contributor to both the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia and Full Plate. The Food Bank recovers donated and salvaged surplus food and distributes it to human-service agencies. Full Plate distribute prepared food to local charities that operate emergency shelters, food pantries, after-school programs and soup kitchens in the Athens area
- In all of our facilities, we recycle our office supplies, cardboard, glass, plastic and metal cans. New employees are taught the procedures and value of recycling
- Bins for recycling cardboard, newspapers, plastic, and aluminum are provided in many of our facilities
- All used cooking oil is sent off to be recycled
- We recycle all of our ink jet and toner cartridges
- We purchase office paper with a minimum 30% recycled content
- Providing on campus collection sites for recycling cardboard, newspapers, plastic and aluminum
- Eco-friendly disposable serviceware is used in our retail food courts
UGA Food Services invites you to visit the dining link on the Campus Sustainability website for additional information about our sustainability efforts.
Recognition for Sustainability
“Georgia Grown” is a local-minded brand with deep roots in sustainability, quality and integrity. Each dining commons has menu items marked with the Georgia Grown icon. This icon means that an item contains ingredients sourced from Georgia. UGA Food Services has been committed to Georgia farmers for years; working with an Atlanta based produce distributor and sourcing local products whenever possible because we recognize the value & importance of working with our neighbors. Rest assured when you see the “Georgia Grown” label that your food is helping to support Georgia.