Ohio University dining halls have been "trayless" since May, and the change has received mixed reactions.
OU spokesman Jim Sabin said the university made the change based on a study conducted in Nelson Dining Hall in spring 2016.
“This initiative is part of the larger, ongoing sustainability effort to reduce Ohio University’s energy footprint and post-consumer food waste,” Sabin said.
The study showed 0.33 gallons of water were used to wash each tray. A food education project the same semester revealed 71 percent of students used trays.
The food education project found that, when trays were removed, 4.7 pounds less food per 100 students were wasted. Based on the amount of meals served in dining halls last year, the project predicted removing trays would translate to 88,442 pounds less food wasted.
Using those same numbers, not having to wash the trays could save over 440,000 gallons of water per year.
Sabin said it is too early in the year for an in-depth analysis, but student workers are now able to finish washing dishes earlier, and the dish return lines flow faster, “which is a win-win for customers and workers alike,” he said.
Miles Weatherwax works at Shively Hall and eats in the dining halls.
“I like going trayless as a worker here because it saves some of the waste, and we have less to put in the compost,” Weatherwax, a sophomore studying biological sciences, said. “I personally don’t like it because I have to get up and sit down more, because I’ll eat the same amount no matter what.”
Hannah Wilson, a sophomore studying information management systems, said she doesn't miss the trays.
"I agree that they encourage waste," Wilson said. "I’d get a lot more food than I would eat. I think they have saved the environment and cut down on the amount of food people waste."
Sabin said some of the trays remain in the dining courts and the rest are in storage and “will be used for other purposes as needed.”