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University of Louisiana at Lafayette turns to reusable containers for takeout

7 months 1 week 3 days ago Monday, February 08 2021 Feb 8, 2021 February 08, 2021 7:16 AM February 08, 2021 in News
Source: Associated Press
University of Louisiana at Lafayette Photo: Doug Dugas

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana university has dumped some disposable containers for takeout meals and replaced them with reusable “to-go” boxes of transparent green hard plastic.

Each student on a meal plan at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette gets a voucher for a “Good to Geaux” container, and people who aren’t on meal plans pay $4.99 for a container with their food, according to the university.

“Good to Geaux is expected to keep about 225,000 disposable plastic containers out of waste streams each year, a significant stride in the University’s campus-wide push to produce zero waste,” Gretchen LaCombe Vanicor, director of the school’s Office of Sustainability, said in a news release Monday.

The boxes are for food ordered to go from a dining hall and a café in the Student Union and from a second café near a campus apartment complex. All three will still have plates for eat-in meals.

Chick-fil-A and other commercial outlets will continue using their own branded throw-away containers, the university said.

After meals, empty containers go into what sustainability coordinator Monica Rowand describes as a “reverse vending machine.” In exchange for the used container, it releases a token good for a fresh one.

“We’re encouraging people to return containers immediately after they eat to prevent inundating dining services staff at peak meal times and reduce the likelihood containers will get lost or broken,” Rowand said.

The used boxes get washed and sanitized. They should be wiped out — and, if possible, rinsed out — before going into the machine, the university said.

If a machine breaks, disposables may be used until it is fixed.

Rowand said the new containers will also reduce waste management costs by reducing the amount of trash.

Machines for returning containers are at five locations -- the three where food will be served in them, a residence hall food court and the school’s athletic complex.

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