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Eco-takeout container program aims to reduce waste on campus

REDUCE AND RE-USE: The new eco-containers available in the H-Wing Marketplace cafeteria at UTSC are aimed at cutting down on campus waste. (Photo: Ken Jones.)

by Eleni Kanavas

A new environmental and sustainable initiative has been introduced in the H-Wing Marketplace cafeteria at U of T Scarborough.

A new, reusable and recyclable eco-takeout food container has been designed by Aramark Food Services to reduce the number of styrofoam containers thrown away. Homer Jung, manager of Aramark Food Services, said he was willing to try something new in effort to develop more sustainable food practices on campus. He worked with Zahra Jaffer, UTSC sustainability assistant, and her student team of sustainability peer educators, who helped develop and promote the eco-takeout container program. Diners don't even have to wash their container -- they just return it and kitchen staff will do that for them.

“A significant volume of campus waste comes from food containers, so it’s important that we undertake initiatives aimed at reducing the amount of food container waste,” says Tim Lang, manager of health, safety and sustainability. “The first and most important of the three Rs is to reduce the amount of waste we produce in the first place rather than just trying to find recyclable alternatives. This reduce-and-reuse initiative lowers the initial amount of garbage we generate. It takes a lot more money and resources to recycle food containers than to reuse them.”

To participate in the program, students, faculty and staff can purchase a $5 deposit card and will receive a loyalty card that offers a 50-cent discount on the purchase of 10 meals with the use of the eco-takeout container in the Marketplace. You don’t even have to wash it when you return it – the Marketplace staff will do that for you.

As an alternative to styrofoam, the reusable “clamshell” to-go container is, naturally, a green colour and is spill-resistant as well as microwave- and dishwasher-safe. Here are four simple steps to using the eco-takeout container:

Get it - Become part of the program by purchasing a $5 deposit card and receive a loyalty card that will provide you with a discount of 50 cents on each of your next 10 purchases.

Use it - Pick up your eco-takeout container when ordering your meal. Hand your deposit card to the cashier when making your purchase, and have your loyalty card ready to receive your 50 cent discount.

Return it - Once you are done with your meal, bring the container back to a food station and return it to a server to be dishwasher cleaned and get back a deposit card in exchange.

Repeat - Keep the deposit card for your next visit to the H-Wing Marketplace. Loyalty cards can also be shared among different users. If the container or deposit card is lost, a new container may be purchased and a new loyalty card will be issued.

The program is only in effect in the H-Wing Marketplace but Lang says it is expected to spread across the campus. For more information on sustainable initiatives on campus visit,

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