Panther Dining making strides in its sustainability efforts
November 17, 2011
In an effort to reduce costs and increase their sustainability efforts, three of EIU’s four residential dining centers have gone trayless.
The program, now operational in the Carman, Taylor and Thomas Dining Centers, eliminates the use of dining trays in an effort to reduce the amount of water, cleaning chemicals and energy used in the washing of trays. The reduction in water usage is expected to be measurable in the hundreds of thousands of gallons.
EIU is not the first university to go trayless. Many other public Illinois universities, including: ISU, WIU, and SIU (Carbondale) offer trayless dining to varying degrees. The University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) has been trayless in all of its residential dining centers since the 2010 Fall Semester.
As an added benefit, trayless dining can reduce food waste, as students no longer have a tray to over fill, and simply choose not to go back for seconds.
The trayless program isn’t the only step Panther Dining has taken in its efforts to be more sustainable. Three years ago a Reusable Bottle program was initiated to cut down on paper cup usage. At that time it was estimated that Panther Dining went through roughly half a million paper cups a year. With each meal plan holder receiving a free 32 ounce reusable bottle at the start of each academic year, paper cups were able to be removed from all four residential dining centers, and are now only available in the University Food Court and Java Beanery & Bakery.
Panther Dining continues to experiment with other green projects including a pilot program that was launched just this past semester to research the effects of replacing disposable to-go containers with reusable ones. The results of the program are currently under review.