About 2 years ago, I was approached by several campus entities praising CU Dining Services for increasing their compost/food waste tonnage for that year compared to the previous year. Larger numbers aren’t necessarily better numbers.
I reminded them this isn’t necessarily a good sign for several reasons. First, food waste is still waste. We should be striving not to have any, especially post consumer.
Secondly, strictly from a profitability perspective, (particularly true for a department like mine, where food costs are rising and the cost of doing business is rising), margins on my bottom line were heading in the wrong direction, not to mention the costs associated with hauling compost. With our natural resources becoming scarcer, hauling fees (fuel) and tipping fees (land use) are on the rise.
Last but not least, you would hope that if tonnage of food waste goes up, you’re doing more business because you’re serving more customers, not because there’s more waste associated per person. Unfortunately, the latter is more often the truth.
At CU Boulder Dining Services, we strive to decrease our pre-consumer, (preparation waste), and post-consumer waste, (what the customers leave on their plate.) Preparing the proper amounts in parallel with serving the appropriate proportions is the goal. Let’s keep food where it belongs, in bellies!
About the Author
Lauren Heising is the Coordinator for Sustainable Dining for Housing & Dining Services at the University of Colorado at Boulder. As Dining Services’ Registered Dietitian for the past 23 years, Lauren has also fostered a passion for sustainability. She has been instrumental in the development and implementation of many sustainability initiatives in Dining Services, as well as the entire Housing & Dining Services department. Lauren is recognized as a valuable and knowledgeable resource on campus, and was a recent recipient of CU Boulder’s Environmental Award in recognition of her commitment toward a sustainable future. She has also made numerous presentations on various Sustainability topics, most notably at the Rocky Mountain Sustainability Summit and NACUFS Continental Regional Conference. She currently serves as an AASHE STARS Technical Advisor on Dining.