This week in sustainability, we will take a look at something near and dear to all of our hearts, the Schott Dining Hall. Commonly known as “the caf,” it is actually one of the most environmentally conscious entities on campus. You have all probably noticed the new dish carousel (the thing that takes your dirty dishes) has eliminated the trays freshmen were so fond of. That carousel is actually just the tip of the iceberg in terms of new machinery Aramark has installed to recover food waste. From the carousel, the food waste is pushed by gray water, or recycled water, into a food pulper.
The food pulper grinds the food into a moist paste, which is as pleasant as it sounds. Aramark contracts with a recycling company called Rosby, which takes the pulp dumpsters and composts it. According to Dave Turska, the food service director, this keeps over 9,000 pounds of food waste out of the landfill every week. During zero waste events, such as the Spirit Day Brunch, all the waste (including the cutlery, plates and cups) gets composted. The Celebrate the Spirit Mass generated almost two and a half tons of completely compostable waste. Thanks to the efforts of Turska and Aramark, none of that went to the landfill.
The caf also purchased an ionizer for cleaning. The ionizer uses ionized water to sterilize surfaces without chemicals. Unfortunately, ionizers are not recognized as sanitary in Ohio, despite being recognized as sanitary in many other states. Until Ohio updates its law, the caf is using it on non-food prep surfaces such as sneeze-guards and the floors. This not only takes chemicals out of the waste water, but also saves the caf money by reducing the amount of soap that needs to be bought.
That’s what the caf is doing behind the scenes. A program free to John Carroll students is back for another year. Instead of sneaking food out of the caf, students can now get a resealable container from Fat Chris and fill it with food to bring back to their rooms. When students are done with dinner, all they need to do is bring it back to Fat Chris, who will give you a clean one so you can repeat the cycle. Did I mention that this program is free to students with a meal plan? This means no one has to pay 50 cents for a flimsy little one-time use plastic container and no one has to sneak bowls out of the caf.
Stay classy and stay green, JCU.