Editor’s note: Zoe De Grande was previously employed at The Daily Nebraskan.
A group of students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is hoping to make grab-and-go cafeterias like Husker Heroes a little more heroic.
The Environmental Sustainability Committee through the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska is planning to add to the to-go lunch options with a new plastic container that will be reused instead of thrown away or recycled, according to senior water science major Zoe De Grande.
A company called Ozzi creates the containers, which De Grande said are commonly used at college campuses throughout the country to allow students to take food out of dining halls.
The Ozzi containers will be available at Husker Hoagies, Huskers On-The-Go, Husker Heroes and the East Campus Corner Deli, according to De Grande.
De Grande said the Ozzi containers will reduce paper waste by replacing the bag.
The containers will cost $5 per student as a down payment for the school year. When a student uses the container, all he or she must do is bring it back to be washed. Dining Services will then give the student a replacement container, according to De Grande.
De Grande said kitchen staff will hand wash the containers, but if a student loses their container before the end of the year, they will be charged an extra couple dollars to replace it.
Eventually, De Grande said she hopes the charge will be added to the original meal plan charge or onto the N-Card system.
Dining Services will entirely fund the rest of the project, including the collection carts and washing process, according to David Annis, director of Housing Dining Services.
The initial project will cost about $10,500, and he said about $5,000 would be payed back when students purchase their first container.
Annis said the effectiveness of the program will depend on how many students participate, but he plans on the project paying for itself within the first year.
The current plan is to purchase to-go containers similar to ones restaurants provide. The committee is still deciding if they would like to also purchase eco-friendly cups, according to De Grande.
The materials will arrive over summer break to be implemented in the fall, according to Annis.
He said he’s excited for the project to save paper waste when it finally comes into reality. The reusable containers will remove paper clamshells, bags, sandwich wraps and similar materials from the waste stream, according to Annis.
De Grande said she is excited to help UNL become more sustainable with a simple change and to watch the project come to life over the next few months.