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Aramark going green

Aramark, Wofford’s Dining Services food management company, is helping to pioneer the school’s efforts for our campus to become an eco-friendly campus. By taking action and fixing the troubles we are having with certain aspects of the school’s waste and consumption, Aramark is helping to create a sustainable environment for Wofford’s students.

Sheila Carr, the Catering Director for Dining Services here at Wofford, describes the recent changes at Burwell as well as the changes being made to all catered events on campus, “Our new plan is to find and purchase eco-friendly products.” Ms. Carr’s office is in the center of it all, underneath Burwell near the AAAS room, close to where the school houses all of these new products.

Ms. Carr explains Dining Services’ goal to rid their stock of Sysco Styrofoam pieces and begin to use more eco-friendly pieces, from plates to cups to silverware. These eco plates and cups are made from 25% recycled paper, and the silverware is made from plant starch and sugar cane. Even the dispensable napkins are made from recycled paper, and the new Wofford logo reusable cups are recyclable. The most successful product that has been changed are the plates, which are mostly Chinet brand. “I would venture to say that every plate is now paper and compostable,” says Carr. Along with this, all the new paper products, including cups, are biodegradable.

Regardless of all of these new changes, Carr still faces several setbacks when trying to “green” all parts of Burwell. It has taken a lot of time and effort to research and find companies that produce paper products, and even now, several companies are not on board with the concept of finding these recyclable and biodegradable products. Along with this, companies like the group that makes the silverware made from plant starch are unaware of South Carolina’s Health and Environmental Control laws when it comes to packaging, making it nearly impossible to put these products to use. These new silverware pieces are packaged by bulk, and DHEC laws do not allow them to be put to use unless they are packaged in kits, with a fork, knife, spoon, and napkin. It is also very hard to find substitutes for Styrofoam when it comes to cold foods like ice cream and hot drinks like coffee. According to Carr, when plastic and Styrofoam products came on the scene, it “changed fast food”. Now, finding companies that make paper products is proving very hard. When the prices for these new products can cost up to four times more, it is imperative that they hold up against all food and drink temperatures. Despite all of these setbacks, Carr continues to investigate these new products so that Wofford can persist in its efforts to reduce this community’s carbon footprint.

--Molly Brady '13