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By Going "Trayless," UB Student Dining Centers Will Reduce Food Waste 50 Percent

Initiative looks to reduce waste, environmental impact on campus and community

Release Date: January 13, 2009

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Starting this week, students in three dining centers on the University at Buffalo North (Amherst) Campus will be carrying individual plates -- not trays -- to their tables as part of UB's effort to go "trayless."

Red Jacket, Governors and Richmond Dining Centers this week are joining Goodyear Dining Center on the South (Main Street) Campus in the initiative designed to substantially cut food waste.

"We anticipate saving nearly 48,000 pounds of food waste this semester by going trayless in the three dining centers," said Jeff Brady, interim executive director for UB Campus Dining & Shops.

Campus Dining & Shops piloted the trayless effort in Goodyear Dining Center in the beginning of the 2008 fall semester with very positive results.

The trayless dining format, which has been growing in popularity on campuses across the country, can help reduce food waste and consumption of water and energy, Brady said. He noted that many schools credit the energy and water savings to the fact that without trays, students have to think more carefully before selecting their meals. This results in less food waste, as students are less likely to take foods they will not end up eating.

As a result of the reduced food waste, less water and energy and fewer chemicals are spent cleaning trays and plates and processing uneaten food. Over the course of a year, these savings can help a school significantly reduce its impact on the environment, Brady said.

In a recent study conducted in UB's Red Jacket Dining Center, an overwhelming number of students -- approximately 83 percent -- were in support of going to trayless dining beginning in January.

The same study at Richmond and Governors produced similar results.

"During two separate 'Weigh the Waste' events conducted at Goodyear and Red Jacket Dining Centers in the fall, we saw approximately 50 percent less food waste in Goodyear where they were not using trays," said Brady.

"Through initiatives such as recycling, organic composting, biodegradable packaging, energy management and sustainable food programs, we are working to instill sustainability principles here at UB and within the Western New York community," said Brady. "Our students understand the importance of energy and resource conservation. This step, while simple, will have a significant positive impact on the campus."

Campus Dining & Shops staffers report that students have been positive about going trayless for another reason.

"Many students commented on how it felt more comfortable, like eating at home and they are concerned about the environment," said Rob Lewin, manager of Goodyear Dining Center's Main Street Market.

The trayless initiative is just one of many actions being taken on campus to achieve "climate neutrality," called for by the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, which President John B. Simpson signed in March 2007.

This semester, UB's Campus Dining & Shops also introduces a new nutrition program, "Take A Fresh Look." Information about portion sizes and nutritional content is placed on grab-and-go food containers to help customers make informed choices about what they're eating.

"The new program provides diners with an increased awareness of their overall food consumption," Brady said.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

Media Contact Information

Ellen Goldbaum
Senior Editor, Medicine
Tel: 716-645-4605
goldbaum@buffalo.edu
Twitter: @egoldbaum