Environmental sustainability in the dining hall

The dining hall at Queens is working to become more environmentally friendly. After several actions, like the phasing out of straws to accompany drinks, students have begun to notice.

The phasing out of straws in the dining hall is a corporate-wide initiative that Compass Group, the parent company of Chartwells, is undertaking. According to Jeff Brown, director of dining services, this initiative is similar to what other companies, such as Starbucks and McDonalds have done. It is only a small action that the dining hall has started to take to work toward becoming more environmentally sustainable.

Over the summer the campus also became a Styrofoam-free campus, which applies to the dining hall, catering, and any of the school’s dining venues. According to Beth Mack, registered dietitian, one significant change that the university will overtake by the end of October is switching over from their chemical cleaning company from Ecolab to Diversey, which is a more environmentally friendly company.

“That sounds like a simple task, but it is one of the largest things that our company has ever done, ever,” said Brown. He said the change is necessary because every unit worldwide handled by Compass Group will be making the switch.

Mack said an additional effort the university is undertaking is bulk sourcing to try to eliminate single-use plastics like the containers for syrups and jams. They are buying large quantities of these toppings to avoid the plastic waste that comes with single-use plastics.

The dining hall has also been thinking about the possibility of composting. “We go through hundreds of pounds of extra food that comes off of people’s plates every day, there’s nowhere to store it until it can be picked up by a composting company,” said Brown. He added that composting for the cafeteria is a massive undertaking that takes time and precise planning. “We would love to be able to do something like that, but it is not something that can happen overnight.”

Mack was also in support of composting. “We’d love to do it, it is just figuring out the process,” she said, mentioning it is on the radar but getting on board is just going to take some planning.

The dining hall has also undertaken many other small projects. The plasticware and plastic cups are biodegradable and compostable, and Brown said the school is working to be environmentally friendly in many other ways.

The dining hall is open to any ideas and feedback from students to improve. “Any ideas, thoughts, comments we would love to hear it,” said Mack.

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.