Elon’s Dining Services has taken on a number of sustainability initiatives.
Dining Services purchases local produce when available with preference for food grown in the area, state, and then region, in that order.
Organic waste from the dining halls is composted at an off campus facility. Since the project started in the fall of 2008, over 250 tons of organic waste have been composted. This is considered back of the house composting.
Front of the house composting is available in Octagon and Fountain Market. Both of these retail locations offer compost bins with clear signage to help patrons know what is and what is not compostable.
Elon Dining Services promotes the use of reusable water bottles. Bottled water is not a meal plan option in retail locations and filtered water stations are available. Students who want water with their meal can use the filtered water stations to fill a reusable bottle or a compostable cup available at retail locations. This program has decreased the use of plastic water bottles.
Elon’s dining halls went trayless in fall 2007 reducing water and energy usage as well as food waste. Prior to the change, in April of 2007, one-day studies were conducted to determine whether removing trays would indeed reduce food waste as expected. Elon’s results did show a reduction in food waste. ARAMARK, Elon’s Dining Services provider, conducted a study of 186,000 meals at 25 colleges and universities, of which Elon was one, and found a 25 to 30% reduction in food waste per person on trayless days.
Dining Services uses compostable products, such as cups, cold to-go containers and straws. The napkins used are made from 100% recycled paper. The paper hot cups contain 10% post-consumer recycled fiber, and the to-go plastic bags are biodegradable.
The newest dining hall on campus, Colonnades Dining Hall, is one of many buildings on campus with numerous sustainable features.