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The WasteWatch reusable container program was a significant investment for Boston College, but the dining services team has been determined to push it forward despite the pandemic and expand the program into 2022.

SUNY New Paltz Sodexo team sticks to sustainability in packaging during pandemic

A reusable container program for grab-and-go keeps students safe while fighting the waste of disposable containers.

One of the many not-great effects of the pandemic has been the shift away from sustainable packaging as a reaction to the need for safety. The Sodexo dining team at SUNY New Paltz is now navigating a way to stick to sustainability while keeping more than 6,000 undergrad students safe when they return in August.

The WasteWatch REUSE is a reusable container program designed to reduce waste by replacing single-use disposable food and beverage containers with reusable containers. Upon arrival to campus, all residential students will be provided with a starter kit of reusable containers, including a drink cup, flatware and a takeout container. Additional and replacement containers will be available for purchase, while the starter kit is free to all residential students.


Students arriving on campus will receive a starter kit of reusable dinnerware, to be used for grab and go only.

With their containers in hand, students can pick up grab-and-go meals at the main dining hall and other two other dining locations. Diners can also swap used containers for clean ones each time they go.

General Manager Kevin Dicey says it’s possible to keep students safe while keeping up a real commitment to sustainability.


Single-use plastics are sadly becoming more commonplace as safety concerns loom, but done properly, reusables can still be an option.

“When a student returns a kit, a member of our staff will provide them with a new, clean kit that has been sanitized and washed in a high-temperature machine,” Dicey says. “The containers will always be stored behind the service area and distributed by an attendant in a sanitary fashion.”

The reusable containers will only be used for takeout, “not to be utilized in the dining room, to ensure safety for our staff and guests,” Dicey says.

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