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07-01-2015

Clarkson University Reduces Trash by Dozens of Bags per Day Thanks to Reusable Boxes in Dining Facilities

Reusable Ozzi to-go boxes are reducing solid waste at Clarkson University by dozens of trash bags per day.

Ozzi To-Go BoxesAlex French, a graduate of the environmental politics and governance master's program from Cherry Valley, N.Y., said the project is helping the University save money and create a more sustainable environment.

Before the program, Clarkson used an average of 38,500 disposable boxes per month. Now the University is using an average of 1,450 per month--a difference of 37,050 disposable boxes.

French estimates this reduces the University's trash output by about 60 bags per day, improving the dining culture on campus and allowing custodial staff time to work on more productive tasks.

"We are applying principles of environmental economics that we learn at Clarkson to the operations of the University itself," he said. "We are treating the institution as a microcosm for sustainability."



Clarkson began promoting reusable Ozzi to-go boxes more than a year ago with little impact, but now the boxes are being embraced throughout campus. French said the growing success of the program this year is due to the new charge for disposable boxes.

Disposable boxes had originally been given away for free, but a 50 cent charge added in February 2015 has encouraged people to use the reusable boxes instead.

"The economic incentive was a lot more powerful than we thought it would be," French said. "I think it's a good model that other universities might want to follow because we're showing the opportunity cost of investing in solid waste."

Clarkson is the first to use the disposable box charge as a way to generate revenue for a sustainability fund. The University's Institute for Sustainable Environment sustainability fund allows students to apply for funding for various sustainability projects, such as planting trees to offset Clarkson’s carbon emissions.

French said he believes the reusable box program creates a valuable education opportunity for the entire campus community, and he anticipates seeing similar efforts develop at other universities.

"I think everyone's going to get away from disposables, and it makes sense economically," he said.

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 the health professions, 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 caption: Rachel Fisher '16, a biology major from Ogdensburg, N.Y., displays a reusable to-go container at Clarkson University's Main Street Café.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/reusable1.jpg .]

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

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