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 Tuesday, June 26, 2007 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Toward a sustainable dining future at CU
By Melanie O. Massengale, Mailing Services

Lauren Heising, a registered dietician for Housing & Dining Services (HDS) envisions an environmentally friendly future for dining facilities at CU. The coordinator for sales and nutrition advocates sustainability in the department's assorted eating establishments.

"We first worked with the Environmental Center over five years ago on recycling cans and cardboard, then moved to fryer oil recycling and composting," she said.

In the last four years, dining facilities at Farrand and Libby Halls have been renovated, and up-to-date "green" processing equipment has replaced aging machines. For example, mechanical pulpers that capture post-consumer food waste have been installed at the dish machines in all of the remodeled halls. HDS also targets pre-consumer waste at these facilities as well as at Darley, Kittredge, and Piazanos. Food scraps created as a part of meal production are collected in buckets and deposited in collection bins on back docks. All food waste is picked up by Eco-Cycle for composting – over 100 tons in the past academic year alone.

Challenges and accomplishments for the department in meeting its recycling goals include the incorporation of sustainable packaging at five "Grab-n-Go" locations (food centers featuring hot and cold entrees as well as sandwiches). "Styrofoam clamshells, waxed containers—these are not recyclable," said Heising. "We are looking for alternatives."

Another accomplishment is Global Jam, an annual celebration of foods of the world that has been zero waste for the past two years in its use of recyclable and compostable products. Additionally, the department was awarded certification by Boulder PACE (Partners for a Clean Environment) for its environmental achievements.

The department is also always on the hunt for cleaner and greener machinery. Renovation of Sewall dining facilities is underway and the remodel will include not only the pre- and post-consumer waste collection already taking place elsewhere, but also the installation of commercial-grade ultraviolet hoods over stoves and grills.

"The new UV hoods will capture up to 95 percent of released grease particles for breakdown into less harmful substances," said Juergen Friese, coordinator for Dining Facilities at HDS. Also slated for installation at Sewall is the latest generation of pulpers that utilize recycled rather than fresh water in processing.

Finally, Housing & Dining Services has partnered with Lisa Barlow, a senior instructor for Environmental Studies and Geological Sciences in the Baker Residential Academic Program. Over the last three years her ENVS 3001 class has addressed issues of "green" cleaning products, fair trade coffee, organic/natural products in the CU-Boulder convenience stores, and sustainable packaging for the "Grab-n-Go" facilities. "The beauty of the course is that it gets students involved with operations staff on projects that directly affect them as consumers of these products and services," Barlow said.

All of these initiatives are just the beginning for Heising. "The green equipment was not available ten years ago," she said. "I really enjoy the sustainability challenge. As more sustainable products become available, we'll work to include them in our daily operations."

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