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UW-Eau Claire Dining Facilities to Go Trayless in Fall 2009

RELEASED: April 3, 2009

EAU CLAIRE — Starting in fall 2009, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students will no longer use trays in any of the campus' dining facilities, said Christian Wise, food services director at UW-Eau Claire.

A Trayless Tuesdays program that started in fall 2008 was such a success that it was expanded to Wednesdays during the spring semester, Wise said. Trays will be eliminated completely at the start of the fall 2009 semester, he said, noting that a few trays will remain for students for whom it would be physically difficult to go without trays, such as students who use wheelchairs or crutches.

"Trays account for a significant portion of our dishwashing — more than 6,000 are cleaned each day on campus, resulting in more than 396,000 gallons of water being used for this one purpose only," Wise said. "Going trayless lessens the environmental impact we generate here on campus. A significant amount of water and electricity is saved, food waste is diverted from landfills and, above all, we make a small dent in reducing carbon emissions."

Wise said many students have been supportive of the trayless programs and the Student Senate passed a resolution supporting the programs' expansion. He also credited University Centers administrators for not only supporting the programs but pushing them forward. For example, they included in their most recent request for proposals that food service providers must be prepared to become trayless in the fall, he said.

"For me, it's an ethical issue," Wise said of the trayless programs. "The program saves on food waste. People take too much food and once it's been on a tray, we can't use it again. We see whole pieces of fruit and other food that's not been touched thrown away. It's disappointing to see that kind of waste. The trayless program encourages people to take what they need instead of what they can carry."

The program also has economic advantages, Wise said. If less food is wasted, less food is needed, and that keeps costs down, he said.

The plan to go trayless is the most recent in a series of steps Blugold Dining has taken as a result of its commitment to sustainable practices, Wise said. Examples of other efforts to become more sustainable include:

  • Recycling. Blugold Dining works with other university groups to recycle everything from coffee grounds to fryer oil. All dining areas feature reusable plates, bowls, glasses and silverware. In addition, the dining service has switched from traditional plastic and foam to biodegradable plates, cups and utensils.
  • Composting. UW-Eau Claire has partnered with Veolia Environmental Services to bring widespread composting to campus, establishing the first commercial composting program in Eau Claire. Special composting containers are now located in all dining areas and food preparation areas on campus.
  • Locally grown products. Blugold Dining tries to use locally grown food whenever possible and financially feasible.
  • Support of sustainable agriculture. Intermezzos Café and Davies Corner Store serve Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified coffees, both of which ensure that farmers and growers are paid fairly for their products. The Corner Store also features hundreds of certified organic products.
  • Environmental consciousness and social responsibility. A new dishwashing system saves water and energy, while minimizing the impact of waste products on the environment. All napkins are made of recycled paper. Dining Services uses a special brand of napkin dispensers that are shown to reduce napkin waste.
  • Sustainable health. The dining program tries to provide nutritious food by incorporating health-conscious options in all dining areas.

For more information about UW-Eau Claire's trayless program or other sustainable initiatives that are part of dining services, contact Christian Wise at 715-836-5261.

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JB/JP

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