Two separate research studies from Aramark Higher Education conclude that removing trays from college dining halls results in significant reductions in food waste, and that customers are ready to accept trayless dining in order to support environmental stewardship. The company says that 50 to 60 percent of its 500 college clients will go trayless in the upcoming school year.
One study measured food waste from more than 186,000 meals served at over 25 higher education institutions during the academic year. It found that food waste quantity was reduced by 1.2 to 1.8 ounces per person per meal when trays were removed from dining facilities. This represents a 25 to 30 percent reduction in food waste per person.
In a complementary study, Aramark surveyed more than 92,000 students, faculty and staff at 300 institutions nationwide to gauge their support of tray removal. Seventy-nine percent of the respondents said they would support trayless dining.
“This research presents a sound case for why now is the time for higher education administrators to implement trayless dining at their institutions,” says Chris Stemen, senior director of sustainability and environmental stewardship. “Trayless dining reduces an institution’s environmental footprint by decreasing waste and conserving natural resources. Socially, it encourages all students to participate in a ‘green’ initiative that has personal and community impact. Economically, going trayless reduces the cost of energy, water, cleaning agents and waste removal.”
The research was released as part of a white paper titled “The Business and Cultural Acceptance Case for Trayless Dining.” The white paper features case studies of several campuses that piloted trayless dining and also provides guidelines and tips on how to implement a trayless dining program.