Dining Services incorporates many sustainability initiatives in day-to-day operations.
Even the oils that we use in the kitchens are "green". We use Zoye Premium Vegetable Oil, made in Michigan by Zeeland Food Services, Inc. Learn more about Zeeland Food Services and how they track their soybeans from planting through processing. The company produces their own electricity (along with a surplus that is sold back to Consumers Energy) using methane gas from a local landfill. See how Zoye compares to other oils and more frequently asked questions.
In 2008 we began crushing our metal cans and transporting them to a scrap yard. The money received from scrap was enough to cover the transportation and increased labor charges to do this. In two years Dining Services has recycled more than 4 tons of metal food containers.
Shortly after that, we faced the challenge of our styrofoam usage. Normal plastic takes about 400 years to degrade. We found replacement products made from corn, sugarcane, bamboo or recycled materials that are biodegradable and formulated to degrade in a few months when buried in a landfill. Dining Services has completely eliminated styrofoam usage.
In the fall of 2008 we contracted with a local company to pick up our used fryer oil, which was changed to a 0 trans fat oil in 2007. The local company would recycle the oil and Dining Services would save some money on disposal.
In December of 2008 Dining Services began participating in the University-wide recycling program. Instead of transporting our metal cans to the scrap yard, they could be put into this single stream recycling along with our cardboard and be picked up by our local company. Dining Services would recycle approximately 600 pounds or more daily.
Spring 2009 saw a change of dishwashing chemicals. We began using a green product made from biodegradable or environmental friendly raw materials with 100% recyclable packaging. This has significantly reduced our water and chemical usage.
Also in 2009 we began using LeanPath, an electronic pre-consumer food waste tracking system. At the end of a trial period we saw a 50% reduction in pre-consumer waste. The system was fully implemented in all kitchens in 2011. We have developed a "two-pronged" approach to reducing waste. The first prong focuses on reducing over-production using Just-In-Time philosophy. The second prong aids in waste reduction by safely repurposing over-produced food items. The staff has become creative at using items such as macaroni and cheese or popcorn chicken as pizza toppings and other imaginative solutions.
Dining Services is dedicated to creating and enhancing an environmentally friendly business. We have implemented many solutions already and are continuously looking for new opportunities to become better environmental stewards. Many of our endeavors are started or carried out with the assistance of all levels of employees and student groups from across campus.