The trash cans have gone missing from the Lair. But there is no need to panic, since a new mode of disposing of trash has been introduced into the campus dining hall.
In line with Sodexo’s “14 Better Tomorrow Commitments,” the company has introduced the same turnstile method used in Roski Dining Hall to the Lair. Where there used to be trash bins on the way out the doors are now signs reminding patrons to place their trash on the rotating conveyor belt on the right hand corner of the Lair.
According to Amyna Hale, director of marketing for LMU Hospitality Services by Sodexo, with over 3,000 students, faculty and staff going in and out of the Lair every day, the University knew that action had to be taken to reduce collective waste. Over the summer, Sodexo worked hand-in-hand with the University to install a state-of-the-art pulper in the Lair, according to Hale. She went on in detail about how, with the help of this pulper, paper plates, cups, utensils and other waste will have their volume reduced by almost 90 percent.
“We continually try to find ways to be good stewards of our planet in everything that we do, and reducing the amount of waste that goes to the landfill is a challenge we are working with the University to tackle,” Hale said.
What is the journey like for the trash once it’s on the other side of that dish carousel? Hale said that once placed on the turnstile, the recyclables are sorted and taken to the on-campus recycling center while all other waste is pulped down by the aforementioned 90 percent. Following this, the pulped trash makes its way to the Somat dehydrating machine where its volume is reduced by another 70 percent. As a result, Hale said, this process “significantly reduces how much we send to the landfill.”
After learning a bit more about the process, one can see that the turnstiles do entail a vastly different and lengthier process than trash cans.
Sodexo works hand-in-hand with a system called LeanPath to contribute to this waste reduction. On LeanPath’s website, it mentions that “four to ten percent of the food you purchase ends up as kitchen waste. That’s $40,000-$100,000 in waste for every $1 million purchased.”
While Hale is confident in the much-needed change this will bring to campus, she said that it has been a difficult transition for students. Especially during the first few weeks, she recalled, students were just taking their trash to the bins outside and ignoring the turnstile. However, once they began putting up signs informing students of the change, Hale said, “Everyone [began] to understand where to go and why we have changed the process. They are helping LMU be green.”
The implementation of the dish carousels are not the only changes the dining hall can anticipate this year. Aside from the physical differences made inside, Hale discussed the usage of real plates and cutlery during Community Table hours, as well as bringing to campus a new dishwasher. Sodexo worked closely with LMU to bring a new dishwasher to the Lair that uses significantly less water and electricity, according to Hale.
Freshman business marketing major Jobert Adan did not know that the turnstiles were a new addition to the Lair. He exhibited some confusion at their significance, saying, “I do think it could be considered a waste of money, since a garbage can does the same thing, but it makes sense to have the machine during Community hours when the plates are real plates because you don’t have to constantly go out and get them.”
While the Lair is still only offering reusable plates and cutlery during Community Table meals, “they will be assessing the impact plates and silverware would have on our water use and electricity use,” Hale said.
One more possible addition to continue helping the University in its mission to be green would be “reusable to-go options for students on the run,” Hale said.
The University is working hand-in-hand with Sodexo to sustain its goal of being green, and with that in mind, a lot of changes are being made around campus, especially in the dining hall. To learn more about the 14 Better Tomorrow Commitments, visit this website.