Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

FEB 2019

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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74 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • FEBRUARY 2019 I t was a tough decision," says Peter Testory, director of dining and culinary services, Division of University Housing at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, referencing the switch to reusable plastic containers in university housing foodservice facilities. Going all-in was the tough part, he says, which meant eliminating other options for students seeking to take food outside the dining area. "We knew it wouldn't work if we offered a choice — dispos- able or reusable — or if we only did one facility, so we went all-in and now only use reusable containers," explains Testory. The rip-the-Band-Aid-off approach to the reusable container program, dubbed Ticket to Takeout, has proven a success in lessening what winds up in landfills, Testory says. Reusable Meet and Greet The reusable program went into effect in the fall of 2018. All campus housing residents, the bulk of whom are freshmen, received a free token and instructional card in their dorms explaining the program. The token holds a $5 monetary value, which grants students with a dining program free entry into the program. The cost is $5 to enroll for campus staff, students not living in residence halls and visitors. The catch is that no other option exists for off-premise con- tainers in the six University Housing Dining Markets. For those who choose to take the reusable containers outside the dining facility, say, to eat in their dorm room, they need to return the container — clean — to receive a new token. Otherwise, it costs $5 to purchase another token for the off-premise container. Reusable vs. Disposable Prior to the switch to reusable containers, the university's Dining Markets were using one-time-use compostable containers. "We realized that our efforts to be sustainable were actually having the opposite effect since most of those compostable containers were not making it to the proper waste channels," Testory says. When he would tour the university's housing facilities, Testory recalls seeing trash cans overflowing with the composta- ble containers. "Just using a compostable product doesn't make you sustainable," he says. "It has to end up in the proper waste area or you are not hitting the sustainability mark." On top of overflowing trash cans, silverware was leaving the dining area never to be seen again; now staff frequently find used silverware returned inside the reusable containers. The takeout program has also spurred a bit of a resur- gence in on-premise student dining, where staff plate food on melamine dishes or china. "Last year, 6 out of 10 students who got a disposable would be eating in the dining room. Today, I rarely see students eating from the green containers," Testory says. He considers that a side benefit in terms of Students taking food to go from University of Wisconsin residential dining programs receive their meals in a reusable container that they later return. CAMPUS SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAM

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