Dining Services incorporates sustainability into day-to-day operations. For example, the oils we use in our kitchens: Michigan-made Zoye Premium Vegetable Oil. Zeeland Food Services tracks their soybeans from planting through processing. The company produces its own electricity (along with a surplus that is sold back to Consumers Energy) using methane gas from a local landfill.
In 2008 we began crushing our metal cans and transporting them to a scrap yard. The scrap money covers the transportation and increased labor charges. Every two years dining services recycles more than four tons of metal food containers.
We eliminated Styrofoam use. Normal plastic takes about 400 years to degrade. So we found replacement products made from corn, sugarcane, bamboo, or biodegradable recycled materials formulated to degrade in a few months when buried in a landfill.
We contracted with a local company to pick up our used fryer oil, which was changed to a zero trans fat oil in 2007. The local company recycles the oil and we cut disposal costs.
We participate in the University-wide recycling program, recycling 600 pounds or more daily.
We changed dishwashing chemicals. We use a green product made from biodegradable or environmental friendly raw materials with 100-percent recyclable packaging. It significantly reduces our water and chemical use.
We use Leanpath, an electronic pre-consumer food waste tracking system. At the end of a trial period we saw a 50-percent reduction in pre-consumer waste. The system was fully implemented in all kitchens in 2011. We developed a two-pronged approach to reducing waste, reducing overproduction using just-In-time philosophy and reducing waste by safely repurposing over-produced food items. The staff comes up with imaginative and tasty alternative uses, like macaroni and cheese or popcorn chicken as pizza toppings.
We are dedicated to creating and enhancing an environmentally friendly operation. We continuously look for new opportunities to become better environmental stewards. Many endeavors, including composting and our kitchen gardens, are started or carried out with the assistance many employees and student groups from across campus.