By Jenesia McNeil
Students who eat meals in the Arnold S. Winnick Student Center have noticed changes this semester. One of the most significant ones is that there are no longer any Styrofoam “to-go” trays available. All Styrofoam trays have been replaced with plastic, eco-friendly trays.
Paul Carroll, Aramark’s director of operations who runs the on-campus dining facilities, along with the campus Sustainability Committee—a group of administrators, students, and faculty moving towards creating an environmentally conscious campus—replaced the Styrofoam trays with plastic reusable ones to preserve the earth and its resources. These plastic trays may be taken out of the dining halls, washed, and reused. Student names are recorded when they ask to take out a plastic tray. If the student asks for another tray or hasn’t brought back a previous one they are fined $5 by Aramark, according to Carroll.
Student reaction to the elimination of the Styrofoam trays has not been wholly positive. Students have said that it’s a hassle to keep the new trays clean and regain access to another one if needed.
Others feel differently; Marcus Scott, a sophomore Physical Therapy major, said, “The change is effective. It saves the environment from waste and littering. It also encourages the students not to lose it due to a fine they’d have to pay.”
Patrick Bell, a junior Political Science major, likes the idea of transitioning from Styrofoam trays to plastic trays. “It’s a great investment, and the plastic trays are actually sturdier than the Styrofoam trays,” Bell said.
Unfortunately there has been a shortage, due to students not returning the plastic trays. “The whole idea of this project is for students to use to the plastic tray and return them so that they can be reused,” he stated. Carroll also said that drop off locations for the plastic trays are being developed to make returning the trays more convenient for students. The drop off locations will be near the residential halls and the Winnick Student Center. Carroll would not comment when asked how much Aramark is actually saving by the elimination of the Styrofoam trays, but he did say it is a significant amount of money.