For your Planet

Eco-Ware Program
EcoWare Logo

In an effort to reduce the use of take-out packaging and the excessive waste that it produces, University Dining Services partnered with the GreenHouse Residential Learning Community, the UVM Eco-Reps, students from the Honors College and UVM’s Waste Management Team to develop and test the Eco-Ware reusable take-out container program. The program was launched in January 2011 in the University Marché and Brennan’s and has since expanded to new locations. (See table below). Additionally, the University Dining Services Sustainability Team introduced an Eco-Ware soup container in March 2012.

  Join Eco-Ware To-Go Box 16oz Soup
University Marché
Alice's Café  
Waterman Café
Waterman Manor
Given Atrium
The Marketplace
Redstone Market
Northside Café
New World Tortilla    

Resident Dining (known to most of our students as “Unlimited” Dining) generates minimal packaging waste, as diners use washable utensils and dishware. However dining in a Retail location (known to most of our students as “Points” locations) generates massive amounts of waste and is very popular among our customers. While much of this waste is diverted from landfills by utilizing recyclable and compostable packaging options, in coordination with education and signage provided by UVM’s Waste Management team and the student Eco-Reps, Eco-Ware aims to avoid the use of this packaging altogether by shifting use from single-use packaging to reusable packaging. Eco-Ware is a major step towards reducing the environmental impact of take-out dining here at UVM.

Why is take-out dining such an issue? Consider this: If you eat just two take-out meals per day each week during the academic year then you will personally use at least 340 to-go plates and boxes. If this is also true for just half of the 10,000 customers we serve daily, then 1,700,000 pieces of single-use packaging have been used. Yep, that’s 1.7 million to-go containers in one year! This doesn’t even begin to consider disposable utensils, cups, bottles, salad dressing packets and all sorts of other take-out dining related packaging.

Eco-Ware makes the news, read our news stories below.

Click on the links to learn more about Eco-Ware.

Eco-Ware usage for the 2013/14 Academic Year.


Spork Program
Spork Logo

Sporks are reusable utensils that have both a spoon and fork component. Sporks were first sold on campus through Eco-Reps at special events like farmers markets. When they first started on campus in fall 2010, UDS agreed to offer a 5 cent discount to students using a reusable spork instead of a plastic single-use utensil in an effort to reduce the waste created from single-use plastic utensils. Our local compost facility does not accept compostable utensils so all single-use utensils go to the landfill.

The colorful sporks have been slowly gaining popularity ever since they were introduced but their availability was too limited. In an effort to reduce the use of single-use utensils, UDS sold sporks in the dining units as a pilot in January 2013. The sporks were available to purchase with student’s meal plan points instead of just cash as they had been sold before through Eco-Reps. The pilot was very successful and sporks are now available for purchase at all major UDS retail locations around campus for $1.00 – a price that we subsidize. We still offer the 5 cent discount so the spork pays for itself after 20 uses!

We look forward to tracking the impact of this program as it grows!

  Purchase a Spork Spork Discount
University Marché
Alice's Café
Waterman Café
Waterman Manor
Given Atrium
The Marketplace
Redstone Market
Northside Café
Cyber Café  
New World Tortilla    
Ben & Jerry's    


Bye-bye Bottled Water

Effective as of January 1, 2013, flat and unenhanced bottled water is no longer sold at the University of Vermont. UVM is one of the first universities in the country to end the sale of bottled water (the flat and unflavored variety) on campus. The goal is to reduce the amount of waste generated from the purchase and disposal of these bottles.

Free, clean water can be found at the 200-plus drinking fountains and the dozens of bottle refill stations in locations around the campus. A map of these locations will be available in January 2013.

To learn more visit UVM's Bottled Water website.

Ending the sale of Bottled Water makes the news!


Campus Composting
Green Mountain Compost logo

University Dining Services (UDS) has collaborated with the University of Vermont’s Waste Management team and the Intervale Compost Project to reduce the amount of waste generated by the University that enters area landfills. Food scraps are collected from our campus dining locations and then transported to the Green Mountain Compost facility located in Williston, Vermont.

Green Mountain Compost’s new facility opened in 2011 and was created in close coordination with the Chittenden Solid Waste District, CSWD. There, the food scraps from UVM are layered with other organic waste and mixed with wood chips, which help in the composting process. The resulting compost is then sold to garden centers, nurseries, landscapers and even some of the local farmers who grow produce for our kitchens.

Recycle LogoRecycling
The UVM Recycling and Solid Waste team provides recycling containers and informative recycling guides for each of our dining locations. As we like to describe it, “UVM has been recycling since before recycling was cool,” and our dining locations are certainly no exception. All of our dining locations separate their corrugated cardboard, mixed paper, metal cans, glass and plastic bottles for recycling. Additionally, our dining rooms all feature recycling bins and signs providing our customers with direction on how to properly sort their recyclable items.

Fun Fact: The Coordinator of UVM’s Solid Waste Management and Recycling Programs is an active member of the Dining Services Advisory Committee and provides insight and suggestions to the group and our department. This individual was instrumental to the creation of initiatives like Eco-Ware (see above) and helps us continue to raise the bar when it comes to sustainability in campus dining.


Trayfree Dining

In collaboration with the UVM's EcoReps, Nutrition & Food Science (NFS) 250 — Foodservice Systems class, University Dining Services piloted a "Going Trayless Dining" week at Cook Commons Dining Hall. Trayfree dining a, zero waste initiative and a recent college dining trend, aims to reduce the amount of food waste as it encourages diners to take what they like and eat all they take, as well as reduces the amount of water and electricity used for washing trays.

March 24th - 28th, 2008 the dining trays at Cook Commons were removed and replaced with signage informing our customers of the "Going Trayless Dining" event. The EcoReps and NFS 250 class conducted an audit of food waste during the event and compared it with the amount of food leftovers when trays were in use. The results indicated a 42% reduction of food waste when during the trayless days. As a result of this audit, all the resident dining locations: Cook Commons, Harris/Millis and Redstone Unlimited removed their trays for the start of the 2008/2009 academic year and have remained trayfree.



Our dining facilities produce approximately 150-200 gallons of used cooking oil each month. The used cooking oil, as of February 2011, is collected from our dining facilities by an independent local hauler. The used vegetable oil is pumped into tanks on their trucks, which run on SVO (straight veggie oil). The used cooking oil is then transported to the Smartfuel America facility in Seabrook, NH where it is filtered into a vegetable biofuel. The biofuel is then used in a boiler at FiberMark specialty paper manufacturer in Brattleboro, Vermont. FiberMark recently converted its boiler operation to run on 100% vegetable oil, one of the first in the paper industry to do so. The vegetable oil powers the company's paper machine turbine, dries the paper and provides heat for the entire plant.

Where did the used cooking oil go before 2011? From 2005-2010, UVM Recycling arranged with Green Technologies LLC, a small scale biodiesel producer operated by a UVM chemistry professor and located in Winooski, Vermont. Unfortunately, Green Technologies closed in December 2010. Prior to that, the used cooking oil went to Baker Commodities Inc.


Biodegradable Products


University Dining Services supports using environmentally friendly packaging and are working hard to limit excessive packaging as well as utilize compostable products wherever possible. Items available in the dining halls that are compostable include: napkins, hot/cold cups, paper plates, plastic cups/lids, to-go boxes and soup bowls/lids and other items as requested.


Reusable Mug Program

University Dining Services supports the use of reusable mugs on campus. Customers who use reusable mugs will only pay $1.09 for any size refill on campus for coffee and fountain soda options as part of the One Less Cup discount campaign. Reusable mugs are available for purchase in all of our retail dining locations.


Environmental Awareness Policy

Sodexo's Environmental Action Program is complex and multifaceted, offering solid information and tools to make our customers, clients, employees, and society at large aware of environmental problems and how they can help. This is a "living program" with an open-door policy: We will add to, amend, update and keep our programs current through publications, posters, newsletters and similar marketing and communication materials. Our program will be enhanced as new information is discovered and as we hear suggestions from our customers and clients.

The following are key steps we follow to maximizing the impact we can make with our environmental programs at UVM:

  1. Use a Waste Stream Audit to identify the key campus opportunities.
  2. Review the audit summary with our customers and ask for your direction.
  3. Solicit campus support. Develop an action plan to focus on the initial issues.
  4. Draw together a task force of interested parties and delegate tasks.
  5. Meet with the task force and review progress as necessary.
  6. Support the objectives of the task force as needed.
  7. Increase awareness of these initiatives and the status of campus sustainability.


How You Can Help


You can help us in our sustainability in a number of ways:

  • Take full advantage of our three Unlimited Dining Halls: Redstone, Cook Commons and Harris/Millis. All feature all china and silverware service, pre and post consumer composting, trayfree dining and are members of the local food salvage program.

  • Don't waste food. Enjoy your meal but remember don't overload your plate.

  • Make sure you don't contaminate the food waste in the compost bins.

  • Take only the number of napkins you need per meal.

  • Take only one disposable cup for each beverage purchased.

  • Join our Reusable Mug Program (and use your mug). Not only do you help the environment, but also you get a great discount when you use your mug.

  • Recycle aluminum cans and bottle throughout campus at the designated recycling centers.

  • Dine in at your favorite campus location to ensure your take out packaging is properly disposed of.

  • Get involved with the UVM 's Recycling & Solid Waste Program and the many student sponsored campus environmental groups.