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FSA Reduces Waste by Relaunching Reusable Takeout Container Program 

Reusable containers

The Faculty Student Association (FSA) has relaunched the reusable container program at East Side and West Side dine-in to reduce the amount of waste that goes to the landfill from takeout containers. 

Reusable containers“We are beginning with a pilot program to obtain feedback from a couple of hundred students before expanding the outreach to the entire campus community,” said Dawn Villacci, FSA director of Dining Services. Student participants receive a free reusable container to try the program, and then they can let FSA know whether their experience regarding the ease of use and convenience is on target with their expectations.

Sustainability studies student Christina Reed ‘24 explains, “The climate crisis is one of the most critical topics of our generation, and I am ecstatic that FSA listened to students’ needs, held meetings with the Sustainable Solutions committee to hear student input and are instituting reusables into the dining halls focused on diverting waste from our landfills. So far, my experience using the reusable to-go containers is positive, and I look forward to this program’s introduction campus-wide in the future.” 

Our goal is to shift everyone toward more environmentally friendly materials so that about 25,000 single-use containers can be saved from the landfill each year,” explained Villacci. To use the program, students bring the reusable container to dine-in and let the cashier know they would like to use it for takeout. They then pay for their meal using a meal swipe, dining dollars, Wolfie Wallet or credit/debit card and fill their container with all of the food they like. At their next visit, they can exchange their empty dirty container for a clean and sanitized one.

“I am really proud of the initiatives that FSA is spearheading. The reusable container program and other sustainability initiatives are powerful because of their immediate benefit to combating the climate crisis,” explained Andrew Fu ‘25, a health sciences major.

This spring, FSA is making strides toward reducing the amount of plastic waste produced by dining operations and shifting to more environmentally friendly materials.

Making Strides at Plastic Reduction 

  • Plastic hero sandwich containers have been replaced with paper boats and paper liners at the convenience stores.
  • Soup container plastic lids have been replaced with paper lids. 
  • Stir-fry to-go containers with plastic lids have been replaced with waxed-lined paper boxes.
  • Smoothie cups are made from Greenware plant-based containers.
  • The ecotainer coffee cups have lids made from pulp, which saves thousands of plastic coffee lids from the landfill. 
  • Relaunch of a reusable cup program will save more than 175,000 disposable hot cups from the landfill in a six-month period and incentivize customers with a 10¢ discount on coffee refills.
  • Plastic straws have been eliminated from dining locations. 
  • New biodegradable (PLA) cutlery has been added to Roth Food Court and will be included at other dining locations soon.
  • Campus convenience stores no longer offer plastic bags, but instead sell reusable tote bags at the East Side Dining Emporium and the Market at West Side convenience stores. 

According to Plastic Oceans, it is estimated that more than 10 million tons of plastic waste are dumped into oceans each year. Plastic waste has an immense negative impact on the environment as it pollutes waterways, clogs up landfills and litters the land and water, and causes severe problems in marine habitats.  

To learn more about dining sustainability initiatives, visit stonybrook.edu/fsa. If you have ideas on additional ways to make Stony Brook a greener campus, please send your feedback through the FSA website.

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