Reusable To-Go Container Program Potential at Berkshire Dining Commons

By Levente Fabian Haber
Renewable Energy
iCons Year 4
Reusable To-Go Container Program Potential at Berkshire Dining Commons
Executive Summary 

With 13,500 undergrad students living on campus, UMass Amherst has one of the largest university residential dining programs in the country. Each year, UMass Amherst spends over $55K on compostable to-go containers at Berkshire Dinings Grab n' Go outlet to have about 10% of these composted. This low compost rate shows the need for change to save UMass resources while also having a positive environmental impact. This study examines if a reusable to-go container pilot study at Berkshire Grab n' Go could be successful and translate to a campus-wide reusable to-go container program. The factors examined were economic feasibility, environmental impacts, student convenience and engagement, as well as infrastructure changes. Data for this study was collected through a 2,000-person survey administered at Berkshire Dining Commons as well as a pilot study administered to two test groups of 30 students. Students were surveyed before and after the study to determine if student engagement in the system would be successful at a larger scale. Once data was collected, a thorough analyses took place to determine if the project would be economically and environmentally feasible for the University to invest in. We further discuss potential areas of bias in student engagement and perception as well as data bias through survey questions. The pre-pilot survey suggested that student engagement would likely be successful at a larger scale, and based on these data, we conducted a feasibility analysis to explore the economic and environmental trade-offs involved in expanding the University's commitment to this system. The poster discusses potential areas of survey bias in student engagement and perception, and presents preliminary results from the first phase pilot study.

Problem Keywords 
environmental sustainability
reusable container
carbon footprint
waste reduction

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