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Reusable food container program continues to grow

Queen’s Hospitality Services is continuing to drive a culture of sustainability in food operations on campus in alignment with the university’s strategic framework and UN Sustainable Development Goals.

After removing plastic straws on campus and switching to paper bags, Hospitality Services introduced a reusable ECO Container in 2019 to help reduce waste. The pilot saw a promising 7,500 uses of the containers, which diverted as many single-use containers from landfill and recycling steams.

In 2021, Hospitality Services further invested in reusable containers and has expanded the program to Queen’s proprietary retail food brands, including KHAO, flipit, and The Lazy Scholar.

“We are always looking at ways we can further reduce our environmental impact,” says Carl Hanna, Sustainability Manager for Queen’s Hospitality Services. “As a community, we feel we can make a difference through our ECO container program. We encourage all students, staff and faculty to participate so together, we can significantly reduce food-related waste on campus.”

Upper-year students, staff, and faculty can now opt into the program by visiting the main Hospitality Services office in Victoria Hall E022. Opting in includes a $5 deposit, which can be refunded at the end of the year with the return of the container.

Single-use surcharge survey

As part of long-term programming, Hospitality Services is also looking for input from the Queen’s community about considerations on introducing a surcharge fee on single-use compostable containers in early 2022. All staff, faculty and students are invited to complete the survey before Dec. 14.

Over 30,000 single-use compostable containers have been used in retail locations so far this semester. Adding a surcharge would help encourage uptake on the ECO container. Funds collected through this program will be put towards other Hospitality Services sustainability initiatives.

“The reduction of single-use containers and packaging helps mitigate environmental impact in the Queen’s community, but often, organics and recycling bins can be contaminated.  Increasing the use of reusable food containers needs to be prioritized, which aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production,” says Jenn Pete, Associate Director for Housing and Ancillary Services.

For more information, visit the Hospitality Services website.