Waste minimization is a big part of being green, lowering your carbon footprint, and promoting sustainability. At Virginia Tech, we have made great strides in lowering our impact on the environment through waste managment initiatives. Below are some of the initiatives and successes we've had along this path to a greener university community.
Virginia Tech Dining Services began composting pre-consumer food waste at our pre-preparation food processing center on campus, Southgate Food Processing Center, in January of 2009. Since then, our composting efforts have expanded to include all of our dining centers.
In units like Owens Food Court at Owens Hall, West End Market at Cochrane Hall, and D2 at Dietrick Hall, Dining Services staff are trained to sort food waste as customers return their plates and leftover food (this is known as "post-consumer" waste). Turner Place at Lavery Hall is the first dining center on campus to rely on students for waste sorting. Turner Place’s waste stations are designated for compostables, recyclables and landfillables. Today, we also ask students to self-sort at our dining locations in Squires.
Royal Oak Farm, a local company based in Evington, Va., processes Virginia Tech's pre- and post-consumer food waste and turns it into compost. This compost is often used at the Dining Services Farm at Kentland Farm. Between 2009 and 2014, Dining Services diverted nearly five million pounds of food waste from the landfill.
Plastics numbers "1" through "7" are recyclable in our dining centers and across campus. Our recycling stream is picked up by Montgomery Regional Solid Waste Authority in Christiansburg, Va. For more information on what is recyclable and what isn’t, visit the Farms and Fields Blog.
What goes where?
Waste Stations are popping up all across campus and Dining Services is asking you to help! Since 2009, Dining Services has been composting its pre consumer food waste. Dining Services Staff sorts between compostables, recyclables and landfill – ables. We’ve gotten the hang of that and now we want to collect even more of the post consumer food waste from our Dining Halls, but we need your help! There are now Waste Stations in several dining halls including Turner Place at Lavery Hall, Au Bon Pain at Squires Student Center and at the Graduate Life Center, Hokie Grill at Owens Food Court and Deet’s Place at Dietrick. These Waste Stations have receptacles for Compostable items, recyclable items and landfill – able items. Your help is needed to accurately sort food waste from these Dining Halls. Use the Sit & Sort website to teach you what goes where! Please visit the Farms & Fields blog for guidelines on how to sort.
Virginia Tech Dining Services has been working to divert food to those in need since 2007. These efforts were first started by Jacob Moyer, a Virginia Tech alumni who was inspired by the tragedies on our campus and decided to create something positive in our community as we healed together. Today, Dining Services partners with Campus Kitchen Virginia Tech. Since launching in 2015, Campus Kitchen has diverted over ten tons of food. This is then given to those in need within the community. We also regularly donate to several organizations that serve Feeding America – Southwest Virginia.
In 2008, after learning that nearly 30% less food is wasted when trays are not readily offered in Dining Centers, Dining Services removed trays from our all-you-care-to-eat facilities. This change began during summer 2008, during First-Year Orientation, so that incoming students would never miss trays when they arrived on campus.
Trays are still offered for handicapped guests or other special requests, and are still available at à la carte facilities, where they have never been used on a wide scale