Aramark aims for sustainability in University Center

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The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 30-40 percent of America’s food supply is wasted, resulting in roughly 133 billion pounds of food waste each year. With buffet style meals, university dining halls contribute a significant portion of the waste.

Aramark operates all of Pacific University’s food and dining services including the Grove, Starbucks and the Provisions On Dmeand (POD), meaning it is responsible for nearly all the food waste on campus. Aramark takes responsibility with a commitment to increasing food-related sustainability at Pacific.

Jacob Saiki, Aramark’s Sustainability Coordinator, works with different groups on campus to implement sustainability projects. Last spring, Saiki worked with the Center for Sustainable Society (CSS) and Custodial and Recycling services to bring RecycleMania, an intercollegiate recycling competition, to campus.

Saiki’s goals are to reduce waste from food as well as from food packaging and handling.

“We need to be more aware of our waste streams from food packaging and the gloves that we go through,” Saiki said. “Naturally there is a lot of waste in what we do so we’ve been working with (CSS) and Custodial services on that.”

To reduce waste this term, Aramark initiated a campus-wide composting program and a food donation program. Saiki and Aramark began donating unserved food to Sunrise church during the first week of the semester.

“In the first week we donated over 200 pounds of unserved food that would have otherwise gone uneaten” Saiki said.

Saiki wanted to remind student that the compost bins in the UC are for food waste only. He also stressed that students are more than welcome to come to him with ideas for sustainability projects as long as they have solid information to back their ideas.

“I urge students to find the data or energy behind their idea to prove that there is interest in it,” Saiki said. “As much as I can make recommendations to managers and chefs or to corporate, the recommendations will go a lot further with a survey or some kind of data behind them. You [the students] are after all our client and so if there is a demand for something, we try to accommodate it.”

When the Undergraduate Student Senate proposed to stop selling water in plastic in the POD, Aramark listened. The POD halted sales of plastic water bottles last spring and began to stock reusable Camelback bottles as an alternative. Saiki is now looking into having the POD sell reusable bottles made by Cupanion, a B-coorporation that donates water to people in water-scarce regions for each bottle sold.


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