USF Dining is Styrofoam-Free

On-campus dining now uses plastic, reusable containers which promotes a healthier environment and saves the university money.


USF News Reports


TAMPA, Fla. (July 21, 2011) –  Dining Services at the University of South Florida is celebrating its one-year anniversary of eliminating Styrofoam take-out boxes in the on-campus dining halls in favor of reusable to-go boxes.


USF dining began eliminating the use of Styrofoam in Fall 2009 and Spring 2010. Styrofoam was completely replaced by reusable, plastic take-out boxes in Fall 2010.


The plastic containers are offered to students for a $4 refundable deposit and when the tray is returned, they can receive their $4 back or get a clean reusable container for no charge.


Polystyrene, the chemical found in Styrofoam, is the fifth largest creator of hazardous waste and contaminates landfills that affect local wildlife and the environment, according to High Country Conservation.


Complete oxidation of polystyrene produces carbon dioxide and water vapor. Its presence in landfills poses a risk to the global ecosystem as well as increasing CO2 emissions. By eliminating Styrofoam from the dining halls, the carbon footprint of nearly 40,000 students is reduced.


Reducing the use of Styrofoam reduces carbon emissions and land fill space, protects wildlife and supports the sustainability efforts of USF and USF Dining’s partnership with the USF Office of Sustainability.


Christian Wells, the director of the USF Office of Sustainability, said that next to water bottles, Styrofoam is one of the worst environmental pollutants, creating hazardous waste and acute and chronic health problems.


“We’re so proud of USF Dining Services for their outstanding contribution to campus sustainability—doing their part to help us achieve the President’s Climate Commitment,” Wells said. “Their efforts to bring reusable to-go containers to our students have made a huge impact on improving how our university treats the environment and has raised a lot of awareness with students about this issue.”


It cost USF $17,000 for the 7,500 reusable containers but saved $23,000 by not using Styrofoam.


“We are thrilled to see Styrofoam on its way out of USF dining, and we hope that other organizations on campus will follow their lead,” Wells said.


More information on sustainability efforts at USF Dining can be found here.