Penn State has begun the school year with a new initiative where recyclable Green2Go Boxes will be the only available option for carry out food in the South Food District.
The initiative has slowly been growing since 2013. That year, Green2Go boxes were tested in the spring semester at the Pollock Dining Commons, Jim Meinecke, the residential dining coordinator, said.
“This year was the first year we decided for South Food District to pilot completely Green2Go. We rolled it out to not just the all-you-can-eat units, but basically all the retail units as well. So there’s no Styrofoam option down here and that’s the first time we’ve tried it,” Meinecke said.
Students can no longer take a Styrofoam box to go once they get their food at South Dining. The process of the Green2Go box is quite simple and may be advantageous for students looking to save money.
Upon taking your food to go, students will receive a Green2Go Box that is washed and sanitized by South dining. Once the student is done with the box they can return the uncleaned box to one of the recycle stations. Once the box is returned, the student will be given a caribeener.
The next time the student wants to get a Green2Go box, he or she will give the cashier the caribeener in exchange for a new box.
“Green2Go is really dual purpose. It helps us get a quality container out there and because it’s reusable, it also helps us meet that sustainability effort that we’re looking for,” Jim Richard, the interim director at residential dining, said.
Students looking to save meal points for the end of the semester will enjoy the benefit of receiving a punch card where every tenth meal they use with the box, they receive for free.
“I think it’s a good initiative. Honestly when it gets to a certain point, all you can really do is make processes more efficient and this makes it more efficient in recycling,” Ryan Bass (sophomore-information sciences and technology) said.
When planning the new initiative, Penn State kept two main focuses in mind. The first one was to not place anything in a landfill, because much of the waste could have been reusable. The second focus was to purchase a product that meal plan holders could reuse rather than have to throw out. This would eventually save the students money, Richard said.
“It reduces our carbon footprint and makes us a little more green,” Richard said. “We’re not putting Styrofoam in a landfill somewhere. Originally, when we had chosen Styrofoam, we had a recycling stream for Styrofoam and now we do not.”
With approximately 2,300 Green2Go Boxes in circulation by Thursday of the first week of classes, the new initiative has caught on well with students, Richard said.
“I think it’s been very positively received,” Richard said. “Obviously there are those folks that aren’t interested in the inconvenience and will go elsewhere on campus because they can get a disposable. But I think the test pilot is going very well.”