Starting in the summer, Ohio University dining halls will remove most of the food trays and send them to OU surplus to be sold.
OU spokesman James Sabin said a study conducted in Nelson Dining Hall in spring 2016 showed 0.33 gallons of water are used to wash each tray, and a food waste education project the same semester revealed 71 percent of students use trays. Since almost 2 million meals were served on campus last year, getting rid of trays could save about 440,000 gallons of water per year.
“(The Nelson Court study) found that when trays were removed, 4.7 pounds less food per 100 students were wasted,” Sabin said in an email. "Using the same 1,881,751 meals served last year number, that translates into 88,442 pounds less food wasted."
In comparison with other colleges in the Mid-American Conference, the University of Akron hasn't had trays since 2007, but Kent State University still uses them.
“I wouldn’t like (going trayless). It would just make it so we’d have to walk around more,”
Jared Totino, a junior studying finance, also uses a tray almost every time he eats in a dining hall.
“I don’t think it’ll necessarily impact me. I’ll probably get the same amount of food because I don’t like wasting food anyway, but I think it’s a good idea that they’re doing it if those are the reasons why,” Totino said. “And I know there’s a huge food-wasting problem, so … people might not want to get as much food if they don’t have a big tray to put it on.”
Sabin said some trays will remain and be available upon request. Currently, there are about 1,000 in each dining hall. Each tray originally cost about $10 to purchase.
“It was the Culinary Services Student Advisory Committee (CSDC), our student focus group, along with students ... involved with the Office of Sustainability that requested Culinary Services go trayless,” Sabin said in an email. “This fits perfectly with the University Sustainability initiative and has the support of CSDC.”