We began a composting initiative at our dining halls in August 2010 and at One Earth in Talley Student Union in 2014. The initiative became a reality when an audit by Waste Reduction and Recycling found that 70% of waste generated by Fountain Dining Hall was compostable. In 2018, Talley Student Union collected 100.57 tons of compost to send to the onsite compost facility that helps complete the loop of the food eaten on campus. The composting initiative has helped NC State decrease the amount of waste sent to landfills.
Our dining hall take-out program, Pack&Go, features a reusable and recyclable take out container that can be used in our dining halls in exchange for a meal credit. Since March 2009, this program has diverted more than 208,500 styrofoam to-go containers from the landfill.
Recycled Cooking Oil
NC State Dining works with GreaseCycle to collect and upcycle oil waste (~9742.5 gallons in 2019). The organic waste is converted into biodiesel fuel and composting soil. Not only is the oil being put to good use, but it also is collected at no cost to us, saving thousands of dollars each year.
While drought conditions in early 2008 prompted us to conserve water by removing trays from our three dining halls, we then decided to make the change permanent. With this change, we conserve an average of 51,000 gallons of water weekly. Food waste and energy usage are down, too. By going trayless, we’ve saved more than 21 million gallons of water. That’s enough to fill over 30 Olympic-sized swimming pools!
Bring Your Own Bag
Through a partnership with the Office of Sustainability, NC State Dining began reducing plastic waste by eliminating single-use plastic bags at the Atrium Food Court and Markets on campus. Reusable bags are now available for purchase at these locations, diverting over 95,000 plastic bags from the landfill since implementation. NC State Dining has also contributed to the Sustainable Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) gold rating for the university’s overall sustainability performance.
Waste Reduction and Recycling
We have implemented several waste reduction and recycling efforts throughout each of our dining locations, including:
- Reusable dinnerware in the dining halls instead of disposables;
- Cardboard and paper recycling at all locations;
- Plastic bottle and aluminum can recycling in most locations;
- HVAC upgrade at Fountain Dining Hall to improve energy efficiency;
- Use of electronic media to reduce paper use; and
- Operating the Cbord Food Management System, a sophisticated computerized food production system. It is designed to drastically reduce waste through “just in time” purchasing methods and eliminate food waste through overproduction.