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Sustainability To-Go on the Clarkson University Campus

Reusable ‘To-Go’ Food Containers Divert Disposables from Landfill

Clarkson University students will find a new addition to their list of campus essentials this fall: reusable to-go containers for use at the campus dining halls.

Rachel Fisher '16, a biology major from Ogdensburg, N.Y., displays a reusable to-go container at Clarkson University's Main Street Café.Clarkson Dining Services/ ARAMARK projects that the to-go containers will divert more than 15,000 disposable boxes from entering landfills in the first semester, as the reusable containers are offered at three major campus dining locations.

“Through a partnership with Clarkson’s Institute for a Sustainable Environment and utilizing ARAMARK’s Green Thread environmental stewardship platform, we are now using reusable ‘to-go’ containers in our dining halls," said Courtney Evans, marketing manager for Clarkson Dining Services/ARAMARK and a member of Clarkson’s sustainability committee.

Students purchase the reusable to-go containers for $5 and then bring back their empty box to one of three collection machines where they receive a token for their next box. Two dining locations also exchange dirty boxes for a clean, sanitized container, which go through the same cleaning process as the dinnerware used in dining halls.  

Shanira Suazo '15, a biology pre-med major from Plainfield, N.J., exchanges a reusable to-go container for a token in Clarkson University's Educational Resources Center.“The token system will give our customers the flexibility to drop off their used to-go containers whenever they choose, not having to worry about fitting a dirty box in their bag, carrying it to work or class, or retrieving it from their residence hall whenever they want a clean one," said Evans. "This makes it easier for students and staff to participate in the program and to help our campus reduce waste.”

“This new program reflects our commitment to incorporate sustainability into every aspect of campus life,” said Susan Powers, associate director for Sustainability & Spence Professor in Sustainable Environmental Systems. “We have been able to excel because of the campus-wide belief that sustainability research and education is a priority. More and more groups from across campus are participating and organizing sustainability events and initiatives."

Evans says that the implementation of the reusable to-go container program was an easy decision after viewing the positive impact the program could have not only on the environment, but also on the campus community.

The driving factor for the program was a group of students participating in a 2013 Sustainability Fund Proposal project whose goals aligned with ARAMARK’s desire to have the containers on campus.

Team leader Brittany Desiato '15, a junior chemical engineering major and president of Sustainable Synergy, along with Kristin Darby '14, a civil engineering and environmental engineering double major, and Anna Hausermann '16, a biomolecular science major, researched, planned and wrote a proposal that granted them $5,000 toward the initiative. The funds went toward the initial purchase of 1,000 containers and tokens/key tags. The students were under the direction of Powers and advised by Evans.

The new to-go containers are BPA-free, made of recyclable plastic #5, and are dishwasher safe. They feature a locking lid, which helps to prevent spills.

“The health and safety of our customers, our employees and our environment always comes first and we will continue to look for ways to reduce our environmental impact," said Evans. "This program is yet another example of how we strive to reduce waste and support the sustainability goals of Clarkson.”

In addition to reducing the number of disposables used on campus, the program also commits to recycling the to-go containers at the end of their useful life.

Green Thread, launched by ARAMARK in 2008, encompasses a range of environmental stewardship programs. The program allows ARAMARK to efficiently customize an environmental strategy that educates and engages students and staff in environmental practices that help to improve their community.

About ARAMARK Higher Education
ARAMARK Higher Education is dedicated to excellence in dining, facility, and stadium and arena services. ARAMARK enhances the living and learning experience and environment for more than 600 colleges and universities throughout North America. For more information and a list of our services, visit

About Clarkson University
Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo captions: Rachel Fisher '16, a biology major from Ogdensburg, N.Y., displays a reusable to-go container at Clarkson University's Main Street Café. Shanira Suazo '15, a biology pre-med major from Plainfield, N.J., exchanges a reusable to-go container for a token in Clarkson University's Educational Resources Center.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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