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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

UF Conducts Organics Audits at campus dining locations

As one of many efforts working to understand the University of Florida’s waste streams, Gator Dining Services, in partnership with the Office of Sustainability, began conducting audits of the organics waste stream at University of Florida dining facilities. Gator Dining’s Sustainability Manager, Dana Falstad, UF Zero Waste Coordinator, Joseph Floyd, and Office of Sustainability Intern, Kathleen Kirsch, spent many hours sorting waste, weighing food, and educating staff and students about food waste reduction at Broward Fresh Food Company, Gator Corner, Burger King, and the Reitz Union.

Based upon an initial waste audit conducted in 2005, organics accounts for over 15% of UF’s total waste footprint, and thus presents a considerable challenge in meeting the university’s zero waste goal. The information yielded from this organics specific audit will help critically inform the development and implementation of a comprehensive campus composting program.

Most of the waste collected at the dining locations was pre-consumer, or food waste generated during food preparation, with post-consumer waste from plate scrapings measured at some dining facilities. Gator Corner produced the most food waste per day at approximately 787 lbs. Broward Fresh Food Company followed at 770 lbs. of food waste per day, and the Reitz Union at 575 lbs. An audit of Little Hall, Turlington, the Hub, and Racquet Club dining locations is scheduled for this April.

Even with a composting solution is in the works, there are a number of things consumers can do to reduce waste at the source: opt for reusable plates, silverware, and cups as much as possible, check out a reusable to-go container with a valid Gator 1 ID, and most importantly, take only the amount of food one can eat. When campus dining halls went trayless, roughly 60,000 lbs of food waste a day was prevented as people were encouraged to take smaller portions. These small actions, when done collectively, will contribute greatly to UF’s progress toward its goal, with effects that translate far beyond Gainesville. So do your part to REthink waste!