Dining Services introduces compostable tableware

February 1, 2019

Brandeis Dining Services introduced a new initiative that included providing compost bins as well as compostable tableware instead of plastic tableware at events, in a series of information sessions called Let’s Talk Trash. Manager of Brandeis Sustainability Programs Mary Fischer gave the presentations along with Gretchen Carey, the Recycling and Organics Coordinator at Republic Services.

Fischer began the information session by discussing some myths about recycling that she had often encountered. A particular issue was students seeing the custodian put trash and recycling in the same bag. This does indeed happen, however it is only temporarily while they are transported out of the building. This is done to make facilities more efficient. The only time recycling is thrown in the trash is if it is too contaminated to be recycled.

Fischer then emphasized how crucial it is for people to make more of an effort to recycle. “The state of Massachusetts fills up trucks full of trash and sends it to other states, because of how full the local landfills are,” said Fisher. The local incinerators are also at capacity and no new ones are being built. The issue with the incinerators is that they create toxic ash and airborne pollutants, and if the ash ends up in landfills, it can impact groundwater.

Fischer also said that “it is always better to avoid trash in the first place,” as recycling does not cancel out the effect of making something in the first place.

Another issue discussed was keeping recycling clean: There should be no food, liquids, cords or plastic bags. If a student wants to recycle their plastic bags, they should bring them to a local supermarket that collects them. “There are no recycling fairies that sort out your recycling,” said Fischer. She also warned about the dangers of wishcycling—putting non-recyclable items in the recycling bin with the hope they will be recycled.

The audience was then given a virtual tour of the recycling and compost facilities and learned about the changes that were happening in the compost facilities. Fischer also announced the addition of catering to the compost program: All events will now have compostable tableware.

Fischer informed the various department heads about how they can get compostable bins in their offices and gave more information about the Green Office Certification. The Green Office Certification consists of Brandeis Sustainability giving a presentation to a department and then calculating their green score, which will potentially result in them recieving a medal (Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum).

Brandeis Sustainability then helps the departments with obtaining bins for recycling and compost, switching to less wasteful office coffee, holding green events and more. The only department that currently has a Green Office Medal is the English Department, with a Gold medal.

Carey gave a presentation on Republic Services, the company that recycles for Brandeis. Carey explained the difference between things that are reusable, things that are recyclable and things that are compostable.

Reusables are things that can be used again in the same form as they are now. Recyclable things are those that can be turned into a new item, while compostables are foodstuffs. She hoped that this information would help the Brandeis community improve their recycling.

“We want your pizza box, not your pizza,” Carey concluded.

Two more session will occur on Monday, Feb. 11 and Thursday, Feb. 14, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. at the Shapiro Campus Center Multi-Purpose Room. The events are sponsored by Sustainable Brandeis.

Menu Title