UCA’s Student Government Association (SGA) and Aramark dining services are gearing up to launch a new initiative to cut down the amount of styrofoam waste that goes in and out of the Christian Cafeteria’s door every day.
Starting on Sept. 3, the Christian Cafeteria will have available to-go containers that are plastic and reusable — appropriately named Go-Green containers.
With the help of UCA’s dining services, the 2018 SGA Housing & Food Service Committee set out to spark the initiative that, in previous years, has fell through.
“Starting a reusable to-go box system has been an idea SGA has played with for a few years now,” said junior SGA Vice President of Finance Jennifer Cale.
Each time a committee started to work on it, setbacks would occur and the idea continuously fell through the cracks. However, last year's Housing & Food Service Committee and other senators were interested in pursuing the program and motivated to bring it to fruition.
Jim Nabors, Aramark general manager, saw SGA’s passion to create a cleaner and healthier campus and continued to work with them to make the reusable to-go containers happen.
“SGA had really wanted to do something to be more green and more sustainable on campus,” Nabors said. “[SGA] asked if [dining services] could come up with something again, so we decided to try it.”
Cale stated that other campuses around Arkansas had already begun implementing similar reusable programs, and UCA’s SGA wanted to be a part of the waste solution.
“When SGA approached Aramark about restarting it, they were excited to start the program again with some improvements,” Cale said.
According to data gathered by SGA, the cafeteria was handing out around 200 styrofoam to-go containers each day.
Nabors estimated that the cafeteria uses around 3,000 to-go containers each week. The city of conway’s website states under their residential recycling tab that while they do accept styrofoam materials, they do not accept styrofoam to-go boxes.
“You just have to think that the styrofoam boxes are going to a landfill,” said Nabors. “So this [initiative] is to hopefully cut down on our footprint, and it may help everything.”
Nabors also explained how the to-go boxes will work for students.
“We will no longer have styrofoam boxes to-go starting [Sept. 3] available in the cafeteria. [The boxes] will all be Go-Green dining boxes,” Nabors said.
Students will pay $5 to receive a to-go container for use. After a student fills that container with food, they can take it back to their dorm with them to empty and bring back. After returning their container, students can exhange it for a new and clean to-go container. However, if the student chooses not to take a new to-go container, they receive a token instead that can be exchanged for a clean container the next time they come to the cafeteria.
“When they bring the token back, they can get another box free of charge,” Nabors said. “What they really have to remember is that the token is just like the plastic box. If you lose [the token], you buy a new one. Keep up with the box or the token. Just make sure that you understand that we clean [the boxes] and santize them before they go back out to students.”
Senior Wayne Buckner says he’s excited that UCA is taking on the challenge of providing the to-go boxes.
“I think the whole green-containers thing is a wonderful idea,” Buckner said. “I’m glad [UCA] is making an initiative just to help the environment. I know I’m surely going to try them out.”
The Go-Green dining containers will be available for purchase on Tuesday, Sept. 3.