Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., has eliminated the use of polystyrene foam containers in its campus food service operations.
Getting rid of the material—more commonly known by the brand name Stryrofoam—was one of the university's goals as it moves toward zero waste on campus.
Since 2012, the university food service operations have gone through an average per year of 204,000 three-compartment take-out containers and 126,250 24-ounce beverage cups. Despite a longstanding desire to stop using Styrofoam, the cost of switching to alternatives made such a change unfeasible.
Now, consumer demand for alternatives has resulted in better and less expensive products, and the university has chosen to use paper containers, which are compostable.
"We felt, as a university, that paper was a better choice. It can be composted and that's the direction we are trying to head through the zero waste initiative," says Jennifer Maxwell, a program specialist in Appalachian State's Office of Sustainability.
Other aspects of zero-waste efforts: Campus dining locations now provide reusable dinnerware, drinkware and utensils. The university's Food Services also has purchased salad bowls for students to use instead of Styrofoam boxes for salads in the dining rooms; students had been using the Styrofoam products because they wanted deeper containers for their salads.